Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following the 30-year Eritrean War of Independence, and subsequent border disputes caused continuing tension between the two nations. The tensions came to a boiling point in May 1998, and Eritrea invaded Ethiopia, leading to the Ethiopian–Eritrean War; this killed between 70,000–100,000 on both sides and left Eritrea with over a third of its territory occupied and more than 650,000 people displaced.
In 2000, the two countries signed the Algiers Agreement agreeing to submit to binding arbitration to resolve boundary and restitution questions. Eritrea was awarded most of the disputed territory by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but Ethiopia still occupied most of the disputed land as of 2017. The result was a frozen conflict state of "no war, no peace" and prolonged tensions between the two countries. Each country accused the other of hosting terrorist movements aimed at fomenting regime change, and both remained closed societies; Ethiopia was a authoritarian dominant-party state ruled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and Eritrea was a totalitarian, formally one-party state ruled by the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Presidential and parliamentary elections in Eritrea have been indefinitely postponed and have never been held since independence.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was unable to make progress toward resolving tensions with Eritrea, and his tenure saw repeated waves of protest against the repressive political atmosphere. He resigned in 2018 and was replaced by Abiy Ahmed, who promised in his inaugural address to negotiate an end to the Ethio-Eritrean conflict.