Eritrea real clear politics's Weblog

February 21, 2009

Advocates Debate Possession of the Port of Assab

Filed under: Politics — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 8:37 am

By Tewelde Weldeghebriel Washington 20/02/2009

Two leading political advocates from the Horn of Africa mounted a lively debate over Ethiopia’s access to the sea and control of the Eritrean port of Assab. Eritrean opposition member Dawit Ghebremeskel told the Tigrigna service’s People to People that continued complaints by Ethiopians that they should regain the port of Assab will only provoke another round of bloodshed. Gebru Asrat, a former president of Tigray and the chairman of the Arena Tigrai party, told moderator Tewelde Weldegebriel, “Arena would not solve problems but through legal and peaceful means. Sea ports have security and development factors for a nation,” he added. Dawit argued, “Arena’s agenda is nothing new other than attempting to reverse the Eritrean independence.” He said Asrat’s party is trying to use Eritrean ports as playing card to gain traction in the Ethiopian political space. Dawit charged that the main problem is that there are still Ethiopian elites who do not recognize the Eritrean independence. “But as long as they recognize Eritrean sovereignty, no one can prevent the Ethiopians from using the port,” Dawit said. “They have the right to use it.” Gebru said that access to ports is important for Ethiopia’s development. So, too, is regional security. The Eritrean people should not worry that Arena’s programs could start another war between the two countries. “We believe nothing can be changed by making wars,” he said. However, he said, “The current governments may want to survive at the excuse of wars.”

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