Eritrea + 1 more

Eritrea-Ethiopia: Annan recommends extending UN mission's mandate

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NAIROBI, 10 March (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) - due to expire this month - until 15 September.
In his latest progress report on the situation in the two countries, he noted there had been some problems with the peace process although he expressed confidence that it would continue to move forwards.

Stressing that the process was now at a "critical stage", he urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to "translate their commitments into real action on the ground", by implementing the border decision issued last April by an independent boundary commission.

The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) has expressed concern over what it says are Ethiopia's attempts to "vary" the border. Ethiopia has stated that better account should be taken of human and physical geography in the border region, but the EEBC has accused Addis Ababa of "appearing to undermine" the peace process.

Annan said he shared the Commission's concerns and called on the leaders of both countries to "exercise the same statesmanship and flexibility" which had enabled the peace process to take root.

He noted that Ethiopia's leaders had told his Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, of their concerns regarding demarcation. He said Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had stressed his country's commitment to peace and the Algiers accord, but had warned that if Ethiopia's concerns were not addressed, it "might eventually reject the demarcation-related decisions of the Commission".

Annan said completion of border demarcation was scheduled for November and urged the international community not to be "complacent". "I am confident that the international community would be ready to alleviate the hardships or disruption that inevitably result from any demarcation exercise," he said.

He also appealed for more funds to allow the demarcation process to end on schedule, as well as to ease the devastating drought affecting both countries.

[See also ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: Border commission accuses Ethiopia of undermining peace: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=32721 ]

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