. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .
An article by Yosef Ketema in The Ethiopian Herald
The recent and landmark rapprochement of Ethiopia and Eritrea will play crucial role in bringing about genuine and home-grown democracy as well as strengthening the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Scholars say.
For Addis Ababa University African Political Studies lecturer Tewodros Mebratu, Ethiopia’s ongoing political reforms and the rapid thaw between Ethiopia and Eritrea after two decades of no peace-no war situation, have several positive spillover effects in the Horn of Africa and beyond.
He says : “During the past two decades, many countries in East Africa, Middle East and others used to be in diplomatic dilemma as they could not confidently decide with whom they could forge warmer ties with either Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
He, moreover, says because of the two countries’ hostile relations, insurgent groups and terrorists had been taking advantages of the situation in carrying out various terrorist acts in the region.
“Also regional organizations like IGAD had been accustomed to lack of consistency in decision -making on various regional and international matters.
And this in turn has played big role in weakening IGAD’s influence on building sustainable peace and economic partnership with other regional players, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and The Southern African Development Community (SADC) which are relatively successful in reinforcing peace and stability as well as cooperation among their members,” he points out.
He, therefore, notes that the thawing of the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea will benefit both countries economically, socially and politically as their priorities are definitely going to be realizing peace, regional cooperation and prosperity.
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Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?
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“Hopefully, the ending of the state of war between these two countries will give impetus to Eritrea in a bid to put into action its homegrown democracy as the country’s existential security risk has been removed for good.”
Regarding the rejoining of Eritrea to IGAD, he says it will strengthen this regional organization’s activities towards ensuring peace and stability in South Sudan and Somalia, which have been the headache of the Horn region for a long time.
“So long as IGAD member states work in unison against poverty, corruption and foreign intervention, IGAD will get the chance and capacity to positively intervene in issues like South Sudan and can reinforce stability for the region’s habitants,” Tewodros notes.
Humanitarian Expert Mulualem Getachew, who works for the International Organizations Affairs division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his part says : “The Ethio-Eritrea Stalemate that lasted for nearly two decades had created havoc in the efforts of strengthening IGAD’s role in bringing economic integration among member states. Plus these two countries’ rivalry used to have great impacts against settling the conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia.”
He therefore says that from now on, it will be easier for IGAD to mobilize its community and to solve burning issues like South Sudan’s case and channel its full effort in bringing sustainable development in the Horn region.
If the current promising political reforms in Ethiopia move at a good pace , the Horn region will have bright future of democratization, he says adding : “Now, we can unequivocally say that the right time has come to fight terrorism.”
He also underscores that it was difficult and impossible to dismantle terrorism during the past two decades as Eritrea remained passive in fighting terrorism.
Therefore, both Tewodros and Mulalem indicate the current political situations in Ethiopia and Eritrea have brought great opportunities for East African countries and IGAD in line with ensuring genuine democracy, holding similar stands on various regional and international agendas and speeding up the ongoing political as well as economic integration of the region.