Meles, Isayas get deadline
| News24 | November 30, 2006
The Hague – An international arbitration panel ordered Ethiopia and Eritrea on Wednesday to settle their long-running border dispute within a year or accept a boundary drawn up using modern mapping techniques and aerial photos.
The independent panel – the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary commission – issued a binding ruling on the border in 2002, but Ethiopia has refused to implement it.
Since then, both sides have blocked moves to fix border pillars on the ground, and have come close to reviving their armed conflict.
Earlier this month, the border commission said it was drawing up maps to clearly show the border.
“It is only possible to demarcate a boundary by the fixing of boundary pillars with the full co-operation of both the states concerned,” the panel of five experts said on Wednesday in a written statement.
“As the commission evidently cannot remain in existence indefinitely, it proposes that the parties should, over the next 12 months … consider their positions and seek to reach agreement on the emplacement of (border marking) pillars,” the commission said.
If the countries fail to agree on the border, “the commission hereby determines that the boundary will automatically stand as demarcated by the boundary points” it has drawn up.
The commission said that since neither country was willing to allow construction of pillars marking out the border proposed in 2002, it had resorted to using aerial photos and modern techniques to establish a new boundary, though it stressed the new line “does not differ significantly” from the 2002 proposal.
Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been strained since Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war.