Eritrea + 2 more

Horn of Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 21 December

SOMALIA: OLF leaders depart
The Somali National Alliance (SNA) faction of Hussein Aideed says it has now complied with all the provisions of an accord signed in Addis Ababa recently, namely the departure of rebel Ethiopian Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) leaders from Somalia. In a press statement, received by IRIN, the SNA recalled that the agreement signed in October between the Ethiopian government and Aideed contained four points for the Somali side to implement. All the issues - including disarming OLF forces and closing the OLF office in Somalia - had been complied with. The only outstanding issue had been the departure of OLF leaders, and this occurred on 14 December, witnessed by a third party, the statement said. It also named the seven OLF leaders who left "for a third country" via Balli-dogle. The 'Xog-Ogaal' newspaper said the OLF leaders had arrived in the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

SOMALIA: Baidoa back to normal after threatened attack

The situation in Baidoa has reportedly returned to normal, after the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) - which controls the area - put its troops on alert following reports of an imminent attack by rival fighters from Hussein Aideed's faction, news organisations reported. AFP quoted Baidoa governor Mohamed Aden Ali Qalinle as saying the threatened attack never occurred and humanitarian operations resumed on Monday. "Maybe our enemies called off their planned attacks after seeing our degree of readiness," Qalinle said.

SOMALIA: Two executed in Baidoa

Meanwhile, the Baidoa authorities publicly executed two men after a court convicted them of murder, the 'Ayaamaha' newspaper reported. They were killed by firing squad. The newspaper said the executions were expected to strengthen security in the Bay region after more than eight years without an established local government. It noted that security operations had been underway in the region. The Associated Press quoted witnesses as saying the executed men were both relatives of Hassan Mohamed Nur Shargudud, chairman of the RRA which set up the new local government on 9 December.

SOMALIA: New radio station attacked

A new, nominally independent radio station in Mogadishu came under attack on Monday night, according to Tuesday's edition of the 'Qaran' newspaper. Staffers at the 'Horn Afrique' station in the south of the city told 'Qaran' some of the attackers were allies of Mogadishu faction leaders. One gunman was reportedly killed. The newspaper said no-one had claimed responsibility nor cited motives for the attack. Media sources told IRIN the radio began broadcasting about 10 days ago, but its aims are not yet clear.

ERITREA: Humanitarian situation said stable

The humanitarian situation in Eritrea has been quite stable over the last six months, except for the arrival of some 65,000 deportees from Ethiopia, humanitarian sources told IRIN. They said many of the arrivals were accommodated with host families and were difficult to reach. The sources also said funding for humanitarian assistance had been a major problem. Only 22 percent of the last appeal was received. UNHCR meanwhile is discussing a possible return to the country after it was ordered out two years ago. The agency wants to assist in the repatriation of some 100,000 Eritreans from Sudan.

ERITREA: Ruling on maritime boundary with Yemen

An arbitration tribunal on Friday delineated the maritime boundary between Eritrea and Yemen. The ruling said the international boundary "shall be a single all-purpose boundary which is a median line...between opposite coastlines". Eritrean Health Minister Saleh Meki welcomed the move. He told the ERINA news agency that "despite the awarding of the [Hanish] islands to Yemen, the maritime boundary shall exist based on our traditional coastlines". He added that the court had also confirmed the right of Eritrean fisherman to fish in the waters around the once-disputed islands. "We are indeed pleased by the manner in which this case has been resolved," he stressed.

ERITREA: Isayas visits Italy

President Isayas Afewerki was in Italy last week, during which he met Italian Foreign Minister Lambero Dini for talks on the border war with Ethiopia. According to an Italian government statement, the Eritrean president emphasised the important role played by Italy and the European Union in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict. Dini urged both sides to the conflict not to resume fighting, noting that the return of peace would enable bilateral cooperation with Italy to resume and reactivate the flow of private investment in Eritrea.

ETHIOPIA: 12 private publications banned

The Ethiopian government has banned 12 private weeklies on financial grounds, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA) said, according to AFP. An EFJA statement voiced concern over a perceived clampdown on the free press. "The step taken by the government in this direction would only be to the detriment of the democratisation process in the country," the statement said. The banned papers were named as 'Genanaw', 'Meyisaw', 'Tarik', 'Zeggabi', 'Kiker', 'Atlanta', 'Cantona', 'Fiker', 'Kal Kidane', 'Madonna', 'Right' and 'Hikma'.

ETHIOPIA: Tax imposed on imported goods

Ethiopia has imposed a surtax on most imported goods, with the exception of a few items, PANA news agency reported on Monday. It cited 'The Reporter' weekly as saying exempted goods included petroleum products, fertilisers, freight and public transport vehicles, planes, special purpose vehicles and capital investment goods whose importers obtained the necessary authorisation. "The publication gave no reason for the introduction of the surtax, but observers believe the ongoing border conflict with Eritrea...may have been the main cause for the move," PANA said.


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