Ethiopia said on Monday it would not recognise any demarcation of its contested border with rival Eritrea

November 21st, 2006 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Monday it would not recognise any demarcation of its contested border with rival Eritrea, telling an independent commission its plans would be illegal and “must be rejected”.

The Horn of Africa neighbours fought a 1998-2000 war over a frontier area of dusty villages and scrubby plains, in which 70,000 people were killed. Although a 2000 agreement ended the conflict, the peace process soon ground to a halt after Ethiopia rejected the commission’s border.

Earlier this month, the commission said it would demarcate the border on maps and leave the two countries to establish the physical boundary themselves. It said it had invited both sides’ to a Nov. 20 meeting in The Hague to discuss procedure.

“Ethiopia calls upon the commission to withdraw its letter and to cancel the proposed meeting,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, saying the commission could not “redefine its mandate at this point” without both sides’ agreement.

“Ethiopia has informed the commission that its proposal, if implemented, would result in a decision void of any legal force or effect and therefore must be rejected,” it said in a statement.

The ministry urged the commission to cancel its demarcation decision which it said was illegal and contrary to the Algiers Agreement, which ended the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

“Such an act would be a dramatic departure from the demarcation the commission was mandated to fulfil.”

Under their peace deal, both sides agreed to accept an independent boundary commission’s ruling mapping the 1,000-km (620-mile) border as “final and binding”.

The peace process ground to a halt after Ethiopia demanded further following the commission’s 2002 ruling that the border village of Badme belonged to Eritrea.

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