Ethiopia's Territorial Conflicts (1990 - )

Agreements relate to three distinct (but related) conflict contexts:

Ethiopia-Eritrea. The first relates to the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the post-1990 period. In 1991, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) defeated the communist military junta (‘Derg’) in Ethiopia and proclaimed independence for Eritrea. At the same time, Derg itself was overthrown by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Forces (EPRDF), which established a transitional government in Ethiopia. Eritrea was granted an independence referendum, which resulted in a 99.8 per cent pro-independence vote. However, border tensions and heavy disputes, in particular on minority rights and economic issues, between EPLF and EPRDF led to new fighting between the two countries in 1998. A mediation by the US administration led to a difficult truce and in 2000 a peace agreement was signed. The ruling of the Border Commission established by the agreement was rejected by Ethiopia. The border continued to be heavily occupied by troops on both sides and border skirmishes continued into 2016. In June 2018, after a series of summits, the state of war was declared over in a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, as Ethiopia finally agreed to honour the ruling of the Border Commission. This followed by a series of steps to improve political, economic and diplomatic ties. Transport and telephone links have been re-established, and borders reopened. In July 2018, the countries have signed the ‘Agreement on Peace, Friendship and Comprehensive Cooperation’ reiterating their commitment to achieving long-lasting peace in the region.

Ethiopia-Ogaden. The third relates to the remaining conflict in the Ogaden region. Here the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in 1994 waged war against the Ethiopian government, demanding secession from the Ethiopian state and integration into Greater Somalia. Despite signing several agreements, low-intensity guerrilla warfare is still ongoing, although ONLF’s strength significantly declined after 2009. Pursuant to an agreement with the federal government, they have returned from Eritrea to pursue peaceful political struggle and planning to register as a party and participate in 2020 elections.

Ethiopia-internal. The second relates to the attempts to reach settlement between contending groups post the Derg’s overthrow with a negotiated political charter and ‘peace agreement’ constitution.

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