Thousands join Ethiopia-Eritrea peace run

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Competitors hold a banner with images of leaders as they gather to run the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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A runner holds Eritrea’s national flag during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Runners hold Eritrea’s national flag during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Competitors react as they run during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Competitors run during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2018
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Thousands join Ethiopia-Eritrea peace run

ADDIS ABABA: Thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans took part in a 10-kilometer reconciliation run Sunday in Addis Ababa in the first joint sporting event since the former bitter foes launched a rapid diplomatic thaw in July.
The peace run through the Ethiopian capital caught a new positive mood after years of “cold war.”
The two countries fought a war from 1998-2000 that left an estimated 80,000 people dead on both sides.
Reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over in Addis Ababa in April and kicked off peace moves, agreeing to hand back disputed areas to Eritrea.
The neighbors have restored diplomatic ties, trade and phone links, resumed flights and re-opened their common borders.
Sunday was the first athletics event for the new friends and Ethiopian Mohammed Ahmed said he took time off work and trained hard for the “noble” race.
“I’m very happy, I don’t know how I can properly express my happiness to you, there is nothing more than love, reconciliation and happiness in this world,” he said.
Ethiopian police constable Chalachew Addis had personal reasons to attend after the borders were re-opened on September 11.
“With the opening of the border my brother has come back to Ethiopia after 20 years and met me,” said a beaming Chalachew.
“I’m running this race while wearing Eritrean flag, I feel happy this day has come,” he told AFP.
Nega Belay, former coach of Eritrean athletics star Zersenay Tadese and a representative of the Eritrean community in London was also celebrating.
“This is not a run of two people, but a run of one people, what differentiates them is minor or can be said to be non-existent, they are similar in every sense,” Nega told AFP.
He said he was holding discussions with Eritrean National Athletics Federation (ENAF) to stage a similar event in the Eritrean capital Asmara on January 1, 2019.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.
A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.


Venezuela ‘on alert,’ closes Curacao border ahead of aid shipment

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez attends a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, February 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 53 min 37 sec ago
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Venezuela ‘on alert,’ closes Curacao border ahead of aid shipment

  • Despite sitting on the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by a humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of food and medicine

CARACAS: Venezuela’s military said Tuesday it was on “alert” at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and ordered its border with Curacao closed ahead of a planned aid shipment.
Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido vowed to bring aid in from various points Saturday “one way or another” despite military efforts to block it.
But commanders doubled down on their allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro after Trump warned them to abandon him.
“The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders... to avoid any violations of territorial integrity,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Regional commander Vladimir Quintero later confirmed media reports that Venezuela had ordered the suspension of air and sea links with Curacao and the neighboring Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire.
Shipments of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering in the country’s economic crisis have become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
Aid is being stored in Colombia near the Venezuelan border and Guaido aims also to bring in consignments via Brazil and Curacao.
A Brazilian presidential spokesman said the country was cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela but would leave it to Venezuelans to take the goods over the border.
Maduro says the aid plan is a smokescreen for a US invasion. He blames US sanctions and “economic war” for Venezuela’s crisis.

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature, has appealed to military leaders to switch allegiance to him and let the aid through.
He has offered military commanders an amnesty if they abandon Maduro.
But the military high command has so far maintained its public backing for Maduro — seen as key to keeping him in power.
“We reiterate unrestrictedly our obedience, subordination and loyalty” to Maduro, Padrino said.
Guaido posted a series of tweets calling by name on senior military leaders commanding border posts to abandon Maduro.
He has branded Maduro illegitimate, saying the elections that returned the socialist leader to power last year were fixed.
The United States and some 50 other countries back Guaido as interim president.
Trump has refused to rule out US military action in Venezuela. He raised the pressure on Monday, issuing a warning to the Venezuelan military.
He told them that if they continue to support Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
Padrino rejected Trump’s threat, branding the US president “arrogant.”
If foreign powers try to help install a new government by force, they will have to do so “over our dead bodies,” Padrino said.

Despite sitting on the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by a humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of food and medicine.
It has suffered four years of recession marked by hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund says will reach 10 million percent this year.
An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015.
Guaido says 300,000 people face death without the aid but Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis.
Padrino said the military would not be “blackmailed” by “a pack of lies and manipulations.”
Maduro said that 300 tons of Russian aid would reach Venezuela on Wednesday. He previously announced the arrival of goods from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies.
In a series of tweets, Guaido urged supporters to write to the generals “from the heart, with arguments, without violence, without insults,” to win them over.

Guaido says he has enlisted the support of 700,000 people to help bring in the aid on Saturday and is aiming for a million in total.
He thanked Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for pledging “more than $18 million for the humanitarian aid.”
British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he will hold a pro-aid concert just over the border in Colombia on Friday.
British rock star Peter Gabriel and Colombian pop singer Carlos Vives are among those scheduled to perform.
Former Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters weighed in on Maduro’s side in a video broadcast on Venezuelan state media, criticizing Branson and Gabriel and said the aid was being politicized.
Maduro’s government plans to stage a rival concert on its side of the border.