NewsEast & Horn AfricaFirst Ethiopia-Eritrea flight in 20 years seals peace deal


Posted on Wednesday, 18 July 2018 14:46

First Ethiopia-Eritrea flight in 20 years seals peace deal

By Reuters

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, right is welcomed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, second right upon his arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, Saturday, July 14, 2018. Photo: Mulugeta Ayene/AP/SIPAThe first commercial flights from Ethiopia to Eritrea in 20 years took off early today, sealing a stunning reconciliation between the former enemies a week after they ended their military standoff.

Families separated from loved ones by the conflict queued up with dignitaries to board two Ethiopian Airlines jets in Addis Ababa - many of the passengers waving flags and wearing t-shirts with slogans celebrating the rapprochement.

A Boeing 787 with 315 people on board and a 737 with 154 passengers took off under rainy skies and were due to land in Eritrea's capital Asmara about one hour and 25 minutes later.

Peace efforts

The flights cemented peace efforts pushed by Ethiopia's new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to office in April and announced a series of reforms that have turned politics on its head in the region.

With the 41-year-old former intelligence officer at the helm, the ruling coalition has ended a state of emergency, released political prisoners, restored phone links and announced plans to partially open up the economy - including letting foreign investors take stakes in state-run Ethiopian Airlines.

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