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Ethiopia deploys soldiers to end conflict

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

In Ethiopia, officials of the Oromia and Somali regional states have agreed to the deployment of soldiers and police to end a conflict that has displaced more than 800,000 people.

They also said a series of public meetings would be held in the communities along the states' common border to help build peace.

On Monday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the federal military and police to stop the violence.

For years disputes over land have led to clashes between Somali and Oromo communities and there have been allegations that political interference has fuelled the crisis.

Abiy Ahmed
Getty Images
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April

Eritrean president to visit Ethiopia

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will visit neighbouring Ethiopia on Saturday, the country's information minister has tweeted.

Yemane Meskel said the president will lead a delagation to "cement... the joint march for peace and cooperation".

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It comes after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made an historic visit to Eritrea last weekend, where the leaders signed a declaration ending the state of war between the two countries.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter war over territory between 1998 and 2000.

After taking office in April Mr Abiy agreed to comply with a ruling of a border commission to hand over the disputed territories.

During the Eritrea visit, the two nations also agreed to re-establish trade and diplomatic ties.

An aide to the Ethiopian prime minister tweeted that the Eritrean leader will be in the country for three days, he added: "We thank HE President Isaias for honoring us with a visit & we welcome him warmly!".

Over the next few days bus services between the two countries will resume, and next week Ethiopian Airlines will operate its first commercial flight to Asmara since the war broke out in 1998.

Ethiopia land clashes 'leave 800,000 homeless'

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Months of clashes over land in southern Ethiopia have forced more than 800,000 people from their homes, the International Red Cross (ICRC) says.

There is a rapidly swelling humanitarian crisis in Gedeo and West Guji, where the displaced are sleeping on the floors of crowded schools, office buildings and churches and food and water are scarce, the ICRC added.

Last year hundreds of thousands of people were displaced during clashes between ethnic Oromos and Somalis.

Ethiopia-Eritrea phone lines open

Ethiopia's monopoly phone company has sent an SMS to its millions of mobile subscribers announcing lines to Eritrea are now open.

Screen grab of text message in Amharic

The text message reads:

Ethiotelecom is excited to announce that connections between Ethiopia and Eritrea have resumed."

This follows the historic meeting between Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

On Monday, they pledged to end the state of war between the two countries.

They also said that telephone communications would resume, which were cut off when the border war began in 1998.

Some people have managed to make contact with family on the other side of the border, including Ethiopian journalist Shishay Wores.

He was called by one of his brothers in Eritrea.

"For a moment my heart stopped beating, my voice was shaking and I was struggling for words. It took me a while to calm down and talk to my brother," he told the BBC.

People are also sharing jokes about receiving missed calls from 1998, including a journalist for the Reuters news agency.

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Ethiopia requests lifting of Eritrea sanctions

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

Isaias Afewerki and Abiy Ahmed
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed made history on Monday

Nine years ago, Ethiopia triggered the events that led to Eritrea being sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

But Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has now requested that the UN lift the punitive measures against its neighbour just hours after the two countries signed a deal to end the state of war between them after two decades.

The sanctions stemmed from accusations by some East African countries that Eritrea was destabilising the region by sponsoring Somalia-based Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

The government in Asmara has always denied the allegations.

The petition, presented to UN chief Antonio Guterres in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is likely to receive support at the Security Council, where Ethiopia holds a non-permanent seat.

Mr Guterres, who told reporters the reconciliation between the country was "illustrative of a new wind of hope blowing across Africa", added:

Sanctions were invited by a number of events that took place. It is my belief that if those events no longer exist, if the reasons that led to the sanctions do no longer exist - of course it depends on the specific nature of those sanctions - they will naturally become obsolete.”

Ethiopia is also a strong trade and security ally of the China and US who hold veto powers at the council.

Eritrea is also set to rejoin the regional bloc Igad, which it left in 2007.

It marks a dramatic turnaround for Eritrea, considered one of the most repressive and secretive countries in the continent.

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