Facebook post falsely claims peace trip to Ethiopia leads to new proclamation by Eritrea

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A Facebook post shared thousands of times claims that Eritrea recently issued a proclamation containing a list of 10 new laws that were announced following a peace mission to neighbouring Ethiopia. However, the claim is false; Eritrea’s information minister dismissed the purported proclamation as “ludicrous” while the last peace summit between the two countries was held in 2018 when both nations set aside years of animosity.

The Facebook post was published on September 9, 2021 and has since been shared more than 1,000 times. 

The text, in Amharic, claims that Eritrea has revealed a slew of new bi-lateral laws following a recent peace mission to Ethiopia.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on September 13, 2021

Translated into English, the 10 points covered in the purported proclamation read: 

“1-No borders between Ethiopia and Eritrea
2-Any Ethiopian can move freely within Eritrea with an ET identification card
3-Ethiopians can circulate within Assab with an ET ID
4-As Amharic is an important language, we have decided to make it the second official language
5-Eritreans will benefit and start using Ethiopian Airlines as their only airline
6-We have revoked previous proclamations of the National Military Service Duty
7-Eritrean soldiers will return to the battlefield
8-Eritreans are allowed to move freely, back and forth between borders
9-No more communication with TPLF, not today, nor tomorrow
10-We have decided to strengthen social ties with Ethiopia”.

However, no such announcement has been made by the Eritrean government and the last official peace delegation the country sent to Ethiopia was in June 2018.

No proclamation, says Eritrea

Borders between both countries reopened in August 2018 after a decades-long war which came to an end when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed motioned for peace. 

Map showing the Tigray region in Ethiopia

When civil conflict broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in November 2020, the former rivals together denied that Eritrean troops were involved in Tigray, contradicting accounts from residents, aid workers, diplomats and even Ethiopian civilians and military officials.

However, a top-ranking member of Ethiopia's army confirmed that troops from neighbouring Eritrea had entered Tigray during the conflict there, as reported by AFP.

On March 26, 2021, Abiy announced in a tweet that Eritrea had agreed to withdraw its troops from Ethiopia’s border.

Contacted by AFP Fact Check, Eritrean Minister of Information Yemane Ghebremeskel refuted the claims shared on Facebook in an email sent on September 10, 2021. He dismissed the purported proclamation as “ludicrous”. 

“It is obviously hoax news and there is no point in responding to this kind of trite disinformation,” he said.

Furthermore, AFP Fact Check was unable to find any articles about a new Eritrean proclamation, both in local and foreign media. 

Visa requirements

Eritrean law still requires visiting Ethiopian nationals to have a visa, contrary to the freedom of movement claimed in the post.

However, due to the ongoing conflict in Tigray, visa services are not available online. 

Meanwhile, the first Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Asmara in Eritrea was in August 2018, AFP reported

Official languages

The post also claims that Ethiopia’s main language Amharic would become the second official language of Eritrea. 

However, this is also false. According to the official website of the Eritrean government, Arabic is the second “working” language after Tigrinya, which is spoken by at least half the population. 

Tigrinya is also the language spoken across the border in Tigray.