In less than 48 hours after Ethiopia took further steps to restore full diplomatic ties with former foe, Eritrea has also appointed its first ambassador to Ethiopia to cement peace after two decades in the trenches.
The government said on Saturday, as the former foes pushed on with a rapprochement.
The job went to Semere Russom, Eritrea’s current Education Minister and former Ambassador to the U.S. Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter.
The first Ethiopian flight to Eritrea in 20 years landed in Asmara on Wednesday as part peace-building efforts between the two countries.
Ethiopia on Thursday appointed Redwan Hussein as its Ambassador to Eritrea.
In a statement in Addis Ababa, the Spokesperson Office, Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), said the appointment of Hussein was to see further strengthen diplomatic thaw (stop being frozen) with Eritrea.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody two-year border war from 1998 to 2000 that killed estimated 70,000 people from both sides.
The war ended December following the 2000 Algiers peace agreement, but it left the two countries in a state of bitter armed stand-off.
Earlier this month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a two-day state visit to Eritrea during which the two countries signed a peace declaration formally ending two decades of mutual hostility.
On Monday, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki re-opened the Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia at the end of three-day state visit to Addis Ababa, the first by Afwerki to Ethiopia in 22 years.
The visit by Afwerki and Ahmed to each other’s countries came in a month of fast- moving events.
The Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) decided on June 5 to fully accept the Algiers peace agreement.
Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki arrived Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital on Saturday for a three-day visit, days after the two neighbours declared their “state of war” over.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hugged Isaias after he arrived at the airport, before they left together in the same armored four-wheel drive car, the latest sign of rapprochement between the Horn of Africa neighbors.
“Welcome home President Isaias!!” Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, wrote on Twitter, saying the Eritrean leader “received a heartfelt warm welcome” from the Ethiopian prime minister on his arrival.
The meeting comes a week after Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a near 20-year military standoff after a border war.
Part of the crowd at Bole Airport to receive Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki
Eritrea formally seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long war of independence, but the two went to war in 1998 over a border dispute. Although a peace deal was signed two years later, Ethiopia refused to implement it, saying it wanted more talks.
Reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea could change politics and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, which hundreds of thousands of young people have fled in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.
Thousands thronged Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders, a Reuters witness said. Flags of both nations fluttered from lamp posts, while some people waved giant Eritrean flags.
Ethiopia’s government spokesman said Isaias and his delegation would visit an industrial park in the southern Ethiopian town of Hawassa later on Saturday. Isaias was also due to give a speech in Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights. Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday.
Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter Isaias was accompanied by several ministers and other senior government officials.
Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month.