New Year, New Hope Ethiopia celebrates 1st Meskeram 2011

13 Sep 2018

Ethiopia’s New Year falls on 11th September and this year – 2011 in the Ethiopian calendar – there was much to celebrate, as Ethiopians from across the country and from abroad, celebrated together in peace and unity.

Most eye-catching was the peaceful conclusion to the 20-year conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which made news around the world and has produced positive reverberations across the African continent and beyond. There has also been a process of reconciliation at home where Ethiopia has witnessed an influx of diaspora Ethiopians, including high-profile opposition figures and government critics, back from exile to contribute positively to the change taking place domestically. They have responded to PM Abiy’s invitation to come home and work together to bring peace and prosperity; competing political parties have already begun the grassroots work necessary to building political consensus.

Recent reforms have brought many opportunities in the political sphere – the government is widening the political space – and in the economy, which is to be partly liberalised, there is a fresh determination to see the reforms come to fruition.

President Mulatu Teshome, celebrating the New Year in Mekelle with the National Defence Force North Division, called on Ethiopians to “stand united for development to compensate for the time lost over the past years due to instability in the country” and urged Ethiopians to “join hands for peace, love and our common goals…making 2011 a year in which we all work together with a single goal, to realize our country’s growth and development by eradicating poverty from our beloved country, continuing to build tolerance and listen to each other.”

Religious leaders of all denominations also called for tolerance and urged people to live up to their history of living together in harmony. These included the Ethiopian Orthodox, the Catholic and Evangelical churches and the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, who all addressed their comments to young people in particular.

Speaking to a huge mixed gathering at the Millennium Hall on New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed emphasized that “Ethiopia is a country we share, and we have to work for peaceful co-existence and prosperity.”

On New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister, together with President Isaias of Eritrea and military officers from both countries, opened Debay Sima-Burre and Serha-Zalambesa border crossing points, uniting families from both sides of the border for the first time in 20 years. The opening reaffirmed the commitment of both sides to peace, though cross-border trade, currency exchanges and other details have yet to be finalized.

Foreign Minister Dr Workneh reminded Ethiopians of the country’s greatness and underlined the importance of “strengthening the long march to realize Ethiopia’s rise once again, which would be won with love and reconciliation.” The New Year would provide “a showcase of Ethiopia’s grand diplomatic and political success story, to benefit the Horn of Africa and Africa as a whole.” The closure of the chapter of conflict with Eritrea and the launch of efforts to resolve any remaining conflicts between neighbours was, he said, a milestone towards peace in the region. It would transform the political landscape of the Horn of Africa, and was already beginning to do so, establishing peaceful co-existence that will lead to full integration at regional and continental level.

At its September conference, the ruling party debated securing Ethiopia’s renaissance “by advancing ongoing reform within the purview of developmental democracy.” The radical forging of a new consensus, introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, will ensure an ever-brighter future for Ethiopia.

 

 

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