Eritrea + 1 more

Eritrea: President says electoral process to be implemented

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NAIROBI, 28 February (IRIN) - President Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea has said the electoral process is ongoing and will be "seriously implemented".
Speaking at the opening session of National Union of Eritrean Women's (NUEW) congress on Thursday, he said the process had been delayed "because of Ethiopia's war, the disruption caused by internal defeatists and external intervention". But, he said, it was "firmly on the agenda and would be seriously implemented".

Parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 2001, were postponed because the draft electoral law had not been ratified. It was subsequently ratified by the National Assembly in January 2002 and an electoral commission, headed by Ramadan Muhammad Nur, was formed.

Official sources at the time said the situation was not conducive for holding elections, as the country was emerging from a destructive war with Ethiopia and the announcement on the new border was awaited.

According to the ruling party's Shaebia website, Isayas urged the international community to condemn Ethiopia's "unabated attempt to change the decision of the Boundary Commission". In April 2002, the Commission announced a "final and binding" decision on delimitation of the border between the two countries, following their 1998-2000 war.

Ethiopia's action, Isayas added, was a "dangerous precedent which cannot be tolerated".

In a recent interview with the BBC, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the disputed village of Badme, where the border conflict erupted, should be awarded to Ethiopia. He said he "found it difficult to see" how Badme could be given to Eritrea. Ethiopia has made several representations to the Boundary Commission seeking "clarifications" on the border ruling.

Isayas accused Ethiopia of "obstructing the demarcation process" - due to begin in May - because it could not "wrest Badme".

However, he added, that while Eritrea would "remain vigilant", its "foremost preoccupation is national development".

Referring to the drought currently gripping the country, he said Eritrea would look beyond emergency programmes towards "sustainable improvement in agriculture based on a broader and more effective participation of the population". But, he stressed, there were no quick fixes.

[ENDS]

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