ADDIS ABABA, 13 February (IRIN) -
The UN's Force Commander in Ethiopia and Eritrea on Thursday reaffirmed
the two countries' commitment to the peace process.
Major General Robert Gordon told IRIN that the armed forces of both countries had shown great discipline in abiding by the terms of a peace deal signed in December 2000.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter two-year border war from 1998-2000 and under the terms of the Algiers peace agreement, they agreed that an independent Boundary Commission would map out a new border in a "final and binding" ruling.
Earlier this week, Eritrea accused Ethiopia of massing troops on the border, a claim strongly denied by Addis Ababa. President Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea has said Ethiopia is trying to "incorporate" into its territory the disputed village of Badme, where the border conflict flared up.
Asked about reports of the troop build-up, Gordon replied: "UNMEE's [UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea] mandate is to monitor the temporary security zone [TSZ] and the redeployed positions of the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in the adjacent areas outside the TSZ."
"In this process we have not observed any new massing of troops of either party on the border," he said. "Indeed I continue to compliment the parties on the discipline they have shown in abiding by the terms of the peace agreement."
"From my observations and meetings with the military of both sides, the message I get from them all is that they are absolutely committed to the peace process and that the real enemies are poverty and drought," he told IRIN.
The independent Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC) met representatives from the two countries in London at the weekend. According to senior diplomats involved in the peace process, Ethiopia has lodged a series of clarifications concerning the border ruling which was issued on 13 April last year.
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: IRIN@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.irinnews.org . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]
Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2003