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Eritrea appoints AU envoy in Ethiopia

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 20, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – Despite their long-standing poor relations with Ethiopia, Eritrea has sent its ambassador to Addis Ababa, specifically accredited to represent the red sea nation in the African Union (AU) headquarters.

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Girma Asmerom Tesfay (brusselbriefings)

Years ago, Eritrea pulled out from the continental organization, recalling its envoy in Addis Ababa, by fiercely protesting what it described as AU’s ‘failure’ to condemn Ethiopia’s alleged violations of a peace agreement that ended a 1998-2000 border war.

Last year Asmara, the seat of Eritrea’s governance, sought a return to the 53-member continental body. A protest letter was written by the foreign minister, Osman Saleh, to the AU Commission, saying that it had been unable to enjoy its rights as one of the AU’s 53 members.

It then accused Ethiopia of using its position as AU host to block Eritrea from reopening its mission in Addis Ababa.

’For over 10 years, Eritrea’s right as a member of the African Union has been wilfully violated, in contemptuous disregard of the headquarters agreement with the AU,’ Saleh wrote.

Following Eritrea’s strong protest, AU commission chief, Jean Ping, who thoroughly consulted with Ethiopian authorities, assured Eritrea that it can reopen mission in Addis Ababa.

’In light of this, I would urge Mr. Minister, that you kindly reiterate to your government this assurance from the government of Ethiopia, so that its Mission to the AU, could be established as soon as possible,’ Ping then wrote.

According to the recently released AU statement, Eritrea’s Ambassador to the AU, Girma Asmerom Tesfay has presented credentials this week to Ping, who was welcomed Eritrea’s return.

However, an Ethiopian official however said that reestablishment of the mission in Ethiopia won’t have any effect to the wrought situation they are in.

"It has nothing to do with the situation. We are the host country of the African Union," said Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokes person Dina Mufti.

"We are under obligation to facilitate anything for the African Union. That has nothing to do with the status quo."

The two neighbours fought 1998-2000 war over their disputed territory in which 70,000 people died. With both sides refusing to settle their differences, tensions still remain.

(ST)

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