By Jacinta W. Odongo
The Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), Most Rev. John Baptist Odama has lauded the efforts of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea in implementing a Peace Agreement that is expected boost stability and peace between the two countries, after a 20-year border conflict.
Eritrea’s President arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday 14th, July, 2018 for a three-day state visit, his first in two decades. His visit comes a week after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister also made a landmark visit to Asmara, Eritrea on Sunday 8th, July, 2018 in an effort to end the conflict between his country and Eritrea. The two leaders signed a Peace deal while in Eritrea and agreed to end their two-decade conflict.
In an interview with AMECEA News Online, Archbishop Odama, who is currently in Addis Ababa for the 19th AMECEA Plenary that kicked off on 13th to 23rd, July, 2018, said that the new relationship between the two countries will bring lasting peace in the Horn of Africa.
“I have heard the good news that the President of Eritrea and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia have removed the boundaries that used to hinder them from meeting each other and also the citizens of either side to interact,” said Archbishop Odama who is also the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese in Uganda.
He added: “This is the greatest news for us people in the AMECEA Region and I thank God for it. The whole of AMECEA Region, Africa as well as the world at large should appreciate this because it is a very good example. Therefore, I congratulate the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of Eritrea.”
The Peace deal agreement has coincidentally taken place when the bishops from the AMECEA Region are meeting in Ethiopia for the 19th AMECEA Plenary held under the theme ‘Vibrant Diversity, Equal Dignity, Peaceful Unity in God in the AMECEA Region’. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea are in the AMECEA Region.
Archbishop Odama further said that the AMECEA bishops are proud of the Peace deal boost for regional security and economic growth.
“Human beings should not be enemies of one another as they are brothers and sisters and images of God. We become richer when we are living in harmony with one another, and we support one another when we are at peace than when divided which brings about poverty and that is not good for humanity,” the Archbishop explained.
Meanwhile, in 2017, a delegation of AMECEA Bishops visited Eretria to express their solidarity with the Church in Eritrea in their concerns and challenges. The delegation met with the Eretria’s Religious Leaders (Muslims, Orthodox and Evangelical) at Regional level held a mutual discussion that culminated with a recommendation to have Inter-Religious cooperation and unity which is the best instrument of love and respect. They also encouraged all Government officials to foster good working relationships with the Church and to create a good atmosphere for mutual dialogue, peace and stability in the region.
The 20-year conflict between the two countries has torn apart families and communities from both countries despite sharing the same culture and speaking the same language. However, following the Peace deal, a new era is set to begin in both countries that will unite these families and communities once again.
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