January 7, 2019
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isayas Afework officially opened Oumajir-Humera border along Gonder and Eritrea, in western Ethiopia, as Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church followers celebrate Christmas, along with the rest of the Orthodox Christian World today.
Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray Regional State president who reportedly tendered letter of resignation last week to the central committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and Amahra regional state president, Gedu Andargachew, attended border opening ceremony. As well, thousands of residents attended the ceremony. There leaders, including Abiy Ahmed, were also in the Eritrean town of Tesseney, where they were welcomed by president Isayas Afeworki and his foreign minister, Osman Saleh, among others.
The opening of the western border came weeks after Eritrea closed Zalambessa and Rama borders along north central Tigray region of Ethiopia. Cross-border commerce has been going on between peoples from the two countries since the border was opened in September 2018.
An update issued by the office of the prime minister says, “the opening of the border [Oumajir-Humera] will further enable the people to people connection on both sides and facilitate cross-border trade in the long term.”
Although there was no major security incident during the opening ceremony, there were reports of protest in Humera. According to Eritrean Press, organized youth from Tigray region showed up at Humera town to protest closure of Zalambessa and Rama borders with Eritrea.
They chanted anti-Abiy and Anti-Gedu slogan. “Gedu Leba”, “Abiy Leba” were among the slogans they chanted. “Leba” translates to “thief.”
One person is reportedly wounded as protesters faced off security forces and members of the defense force demanding answer why Eritrea closed the Humera and Rama borders while the border on the side of Gonder is opened.
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