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Ethiopians will welcome New Year with calls for national unity

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- As Ethiopians commenced the week-long celebrations welcoming the Ethiopian New Year, calls for unity and togetherness are being echoed by the various sections of the Ethiopian society.

The Ethiopian New Year, or Enkutatash in Amharic language, falls on Sept. 11 (or Sept. 12 during a leap year), as the East African nation uses a unique calendar that counts its year seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar.

Presently the country is celebrating the arrival of 2011, which will fall on Sept. 11.

Amid the start of the celebrations earlier this week, Ethiopian officials as well as religious leaders called on various sections of the Ethiopian society to uphold values of unity and togetherness.

The latest call was issued by the Ethiopian Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO), which on Saturday stressed that as the East African country embarked on togetherness and unity more than ever, the wider public should envisage on further upholding such values towards the country’s socioeconomic development.

Noting the representation of the final five days of the current Ethiopian year 2010 on five long-standing values of the Ethiopian society—peace, love, forgiveness, togetherness, and unity—the office urged the public to maintain these values as the New Year approaches.

Ethiopia has its own calendar with 13 months, and each of the 12 months has 30 days, while the 13th month, called Pagume, has five days, which becomes six in each leap year.

As it comes with change of the season, the New Year in Ethiopia is characterized by many as new hope and new beginning.

Amid the celebrations, the Ethiopian government has also disclosed various incentives and discounts on various services to Ethiopians who are flocking back home from abroad to join the celebrations.

Majority of Ethiopians in diaspora usually return home in a bid to join the New Year celebrations with family and relatives.

The Ethiopian government has also established a special entity that brought almost all the major service providers, including the Ethiopian Airlines, hotels association and government tourism organizations in a bid to accelerate the welcoming of Ethiopian in diaspora.

Celebrations for the Ethiopian New Year is usually a week-long fest, while the major holiday starts on the eve, whereby each household or neighbors lit wooden torches locally called "chibo" in Amharic language, which symbolizes the coming of the new season of sunshine after the end of the cloudy (rainy) season that has prevailed since June.

The New Year brings an extended family together to attend a series of events, including slaughtering of cattle, either a sheep, got or cow, depending on a household’s financial condition.

Often, a community or a village will pool money to slaughter a cow in group, while each household can choose to slaughter a less expensive sheep.

The Ethiopian New Year comes at the time when the heavy rainfall starts to cease, and the bright sun comes to shine over the green land, which is also covered by the golden flower known in Amharic language as "Adey Abeba."


United Nations chief welcomes Horn of Africa rapprochement

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Saturday the visit two days ago by foreign ministers of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia to Djibouti, hailing it as "another important step" in the rapprochement among the countries in the Horn of Africa region.

In a statement through his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, Guterres said the agreement reached among the four ministers to work together to restore peace and stability in the region is a positive example for the region and beyond.

He reiterated the readiness of the UN to support countries in the region in consolidating the recent "remarkable" gains.

As a result of the visit on Thursday, Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to normalize relations after a decade of diplomatic stalemate.

The two countries have a border dispute extending back to 2008.

The Horn of Africa region has seen a number of diplomatic thaws since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in June decided to fully accept a 2002 border deal that followed a 1998-2000 war with Eritrea. Restored diplomatic ties quickly followed.

Eritrea and Somalia in late July also agreed to restore diplomatic ties.

African Union welcomes positive developments in Horn of Africa

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Saturday welcomed recent positive developments in the Horn of Africa amid improved relations among countries in the region.

The continental body chairperson’s positive remarks regarding the Horn of Africa region followed optimistic agreements as well as discussions that involved various countries in the region.

Amid the easing of tensions in the region, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Wednesday signed a trilateral agreement that aimed at strengthening ties among the three countries.

Ethiopia also on Thursday reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital Asmara as the two long-time rivals embark on strengthening ties.

The reopening of Ethiopia’s embassy in Asmara, which followed the reopening of Eritrea’s embassy in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on July 16, is the latest of the positive developments as relations between the two African countries deepen over the past few months.

The AU said on Saturday that the chairperson is "encouraged by the recent positive developments in the Horn of Africa, in particular the improvement of relations between countries of the region."

Faki "commends the leaders of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia for their steadfast efforts and commitment to the higher interests of their people and the region as a whole," the pan African bloc said in a statement.

Faki further reiterated that the steps taken are a major milestone in Africa’s endeavor to silence the guns by 2020 and promote deeper regional and continental integration, in line with Agenda 2063.

"These regionally-led efforts are also a clear demonstration of the value and effectiveness of the search for African solutions to African problems," the statement quoted Faki as saying.

The chairperson also urged other parts of the continent where active conflict and crisis situations are witnessed to follow the footstep s of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia.

The ongoing positive developments involving the various Horn of African countries started with moves to normalize relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the region’s longtime arch rivals.

After 20 years of hostility, Ethiopia and Eritrea resumed diplomatic relations recently.

On July 8, Ethiopia’s PM Ahmed made a landmark visit to the Red Sea nation and a week after, Eritrea’s Afwerki paid a courtesy visit to Ethiopia.

Recent positive developments are considered as a new beginning since the two countries fought a bloody two-year border war in 1998-2000 that killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

The war was ended by a December 2000 Algiers peace agreement, but it left the two countries in a state of bitter armed standoff.

Amid the easing tensions, telecom services between the two countries have resumed, and agreements were made to strengthen economic ties.

The two countries’ flag carriers, Ethiopian Airlines and Eritrean Airlines, have also started flights to Asmara and Addis Ababa respectively.

Leaders of the two countries, in another bid to augment their growing ties, had also agreed to increase the movement and amount of bilateral trade through Eritrea’s port city of Assab to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia eyes better road connection with Eritrea as relations improve

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian Roads Authority on Sunday revealed its plan to renovate the disused roadway that connects Ethiopia with its long-time foe Eritrea and reopen the long-abandoned lane to travelers.

The announcement came amid recent positive developments that are considered a new beginning in bilateral ties. The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1998-2000, which killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

The war ended following a December 2000 Algiers peace agreement, but had left the two countries in a state of bitter armed standoff.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who on Wednesday paid Eritrea his second visit since he assumed office in April, promised to further improve ties between the two neighboring countries that were once a single nation. Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1991.

Ahmed, accompanied by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, visited Eritrean ports as land-locked Ethiopia eyes Eritrea’s Assab and Metswa ports for its import-export needs, in which conducive road connectivity was said to be vital.

The previously constructed road networks connecting the two countries need renovation, having been kept vacant for more than two decades following the armed standoff.

According to the head of the Ethiopian Roads Authority, Habtamu Tilahun, efforts are underway to build roads to leverage Ethiopia’s ambitions to utilize Eritrea’s ports.

"In addition to the planned new projects, we are working to finalize the renovation activity within the coming three months period and embark on service provision," Tilahun was quoted by Ethiopia’s state news agency as saying on Sunday.

Ethiopia on Thursday reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital, Asmara; Eritrea’s embassy in Addis Ababa was reopened on July 16.

Telecom services between Ethiopia and Eritrea have also resumed, and the two countries’ flag carriers—Ethiopian Airlines and Eritrean Airlines—have also started flights to Asmara and Addis Ababa respectively.

A decision to construct a pipeline linking Addis Ababa and Eritrea’s Assab port has been also unveiled by Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.

The pipeline would allow landlocked Ethiopia to export crude oil via the Eritrean port. Ethiopia started test extraction from its Somali Regional State in June.

On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Ahmed, Eritrea’s Afwerki and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed an agreement strengthening trilateral ties.

In addition to political and economic relations, Ethiopia and Eritrea are also taking steps to strengthen cultural and people-to-people links.

A cultural symposium last month in Addis Ababa brought together 500 participants from both countries.


Ethiopian diplomatic service re-open former Asmara Embassy

United Nations call for support to Ethiopia displacement crisis

Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia in talks for Economic Integration

Ethiopia opening New Chapter with their long time rival Eritrea



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