Ethiopia Eritrea open border points after 20 years


The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years, Asmara said, clearing the way for trade between former foes after reconciliation.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier at Bure, a region that saw some of the fiercest fighting during their 1998-2000 war.

Tensions over the border continued after fighting ended – until Abiy offered to end the military stand-off as part of a package of reforms that reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Isaias and Abiy “officially opened the Debay Sima – Burre border point between the countries for road transport connectivity,” Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.

The leaders then opened the Serha-Zalambesa connection in a second ceremony, footage on Ethiopia’s state TV showed.

The leaders also celebrated Ethiopian new year together at border with troops, Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s Chief of Staff, said on Twitter.

Pictures on Fitsum’s Twitter account showed them talking and walking side by side, Abiy in camouflage military fatigues and Isaias wearing sandals and a safari suit.

Since signing an agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties, the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders moved swiftly to end two decades of hostility.

Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in July and Ethiopia reciprocated last week.

The two countries resumed flights. Eritrea agreed to open up ports to its landlocked neighbour and last week announced plans to upgrade a connecting road.

Residents at another part of the border said Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers started clearing landmines on Monday.

Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar — which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century — meaning the country entered its year 2011 on Tuesday.