Just as President Cyril Ramaphosa predicted in an enthused interview with a French TV network last week, peace is beginning to dawn in the capitals of some east and central African countries – something that gives hope to the future of a continent known for civil wars and seemingly never-ending political tensions.
The signing on Monday of the watershed Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia could signal the ushering in of peace and stability in the strife-torn region that not only experienced decades of devastation by natural disasters but also man-made mass suffering due to unnecessary war between these nations.
Ramaphosa was optimistic about the prospects for Africa as a whole as Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali were about to sign the declaration at the recent Asmara Summit.
The signing came on the heels of another breakthrough in the form of a permanent peace agreement concluded between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, who is the former vice-president. According to the South African government, the declaration stipulates that the ceasefire arrangement include disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of all allied troops, opening of humanitarian corridors and the release of prisoners of war and political detainees.
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said in a recent media briefing that the ceasefire would be supervised by forces to be deployed by the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
Now hope has dawned in the Horn of Africa with the signing of the Declaration of Peace and Friendship by Addis Ababa and Asmara.
Even the ruling ANC in South Africa is satisfied with the declaration, saying it offers golden opportunities to facilitate intimate political, economic, social, cultural and security cooperation for the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
“We are elated that transport, trade and communications links between the two sister countries will resume and that diplomatic ties and activities will restart in earnest. We note with joy the announcement by Ethiopian Airlines that regular flights between Addis Ababa and Asmara will begin next week and that direct telephone calls between the two capitals are now operational,” the ANC said.
The ANC said the emerging regional Ethiopian-Eritrea partnership would have implications for regional peace, development and cooperation in South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia.
“The ANC looks forward to successful implementation of the provisions of the 2000 Algiers Agreement and the 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission’s final and binding decision. The party welcomed the call by Prime Minister Ali to the United Nations to ensure the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea.”
Even before some of the agreements were reached, President Ramaphosa spoke of new dawn for Africa. He said peace would work this time because it had good underwriters, as all concerned were committed to the issue.
“I think, in any way, people are tired of fighting, they are tired of war … they see it does not pay, they see that it leads to misery. In all the countries that have had disturbances, I am very hopeful, I think we have arrived at a new era, there is a new dawn for the continent and I think that many leaders, many countries, want to embrace peace much more seriously than before,” Ramaphosa said.