Eritrea + 1 more

Eritrea: Warning of renewed war with Ethiopia

NAIROBI, 14 March (IRIN) - Eritrea's foreign minister has warned that his country may be plunged into another war with Ethiopia if the latter is allowed to "flaunt international law" and reject last year's border ruling.
In a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, Ali Said Abdella accused Ethiopia of a "litany of obstructions" to impede the border demarcation exercise, due to begin later this year.

In April 2002, an independent border commission issued its decision on boundary delimitation between the two countries following their destructive border war from 1998-2000. According to the Algiers peace accord of December 2000, which officially ended the war, the sides agreed that any border ruling would be "final and binding". Both countries claim to have been awarded the now-symbolic village of Badme, where the conflict erupted in May 1998.

But the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) recently accused Ethiopia of "appearing to undermine" the decision by seeking variations to the delimited border line.

In his letter, Ali Said warned that "recent developments may unravel the whole peace process and plunge my country into another needless war".

"The disturbing fact is that Ethiopia has publicly stated, through its highest authorities, that it will not accept the delimitation decision of the Boundary Commission," he said.

He said neither side had obtained everything it wanted in the ruling, noting that "substantial Eritrean territory" was given to Ethiopia.

"But both parties are bound by it, and there can be no question now of it being re-opened, which would amount to unravelling the whole process," he stated.

"Ethiopia's provocative public pronouncement that it may eventually reject the Boundary Commission's Decision, coupled with its recent legal submission to the Boundary Commission to re-open the litigation, is thus a recipe for conflict and war," he warned.

He called for "preventive measures" by the Security Council and said the "enormous resources" invested by the international in bringing about peace should not go to waste.

"These endeavours and the efforts of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, which has been a resounding success so far, should not be squandered at the last hour because of Ethiopia's desire to flaunt international law in defiance of the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council."

The Security Council should send a "firm and unequivocal message" that Ethiopia must abide by the border ruling "or face serious consequences", he said.


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