Ethiopia-Eritrea impasse could lead to new war

January 25th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The stalemate between Horn of Africa neighbors Ethiopia and Eritrea is a major threat to stability that could trigger renewed war in the volatile region, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.“Not only does the overall situation remain unsettled, but it has also continued to worsen over the last month,” Ban said in his latest progress report to the U.N. Security Council on the long-stalled Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process.

“The potential for this situation to deteriorate further or even to lead to renewed hostilities is real, especially if it is allowed to continue indefinitely.”

Ban’s warning as the 15-nation Security Council heads for a vote at the end of the month on a resolution expected to cut the peacekeeping mission to 1,700 U.N. troops from 2,300.

Last May the council trimmed the peacekeeping force to 2,300 troops from 3,300.

Ban’s report recommends that the council extend the mission’s mandate for another six months but is silent on whether it should further reduce the number of troops. Without a council vote, the mandate would expire January 31.

U.N. troops were first sent to Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000 to enforce a cease-fire ending a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people.

As part of the peace agreement, both countries pledged to accept a new border as set out by an international commission.

But the new border was never marked out after Ethiopia rejected part of it and Eritrea objected that Ethiopia was not being held to its word, leading to a four-year impasse.

More recently, Eritrea has piled restrictions on the U.N. force, arbitrarily arrested U.N. staff, ordered some humanitarian relief groups to leave the country, and sent armed personnel into a buffer zone set up by the United Nations between the two countries, Ban said.

“The current impasse is a serious source of instability for the two countries as well as the wider region,” Ban said, pointing to the recent brief war in neighboring Somalia pitting government forces reinforced by the Ethiopian military against Islamist troops backed by Eritrea.

“The two governments need to take the political decision to put the conflict behind them, for the sake of their own people,” Ban said.

  1. TATEK
    | #1

    This public attitude has been consistent since day one of EPRDF’s policy regarding Eriteria and I believe it is worth feeling. There is no reason left for our prime minister to defend dealing with shaibia. The reason he has been mentioning ” we can’t afford war” has been wronged by chain of provocations and wars of the jungle state. Now our prime minister is trying to hinge on the idea that ” as long as they don’t distract us from doing development” is subject to debate. It is difficult to see a conclusive victory against poverty in the presence of an animous and insane government that acts devilishly against us. Development needs a sane mind totaly devoted to development. A half minded person can only half bake his/her cake. Hence it is time to strategize for a conclusive victory on peace, security and poverty in the region and Ethiopia’s access to the sea. No sane Ethiopian mind can understand our stand over the port. Many people all over the world and many states ironically belive that the recent wars we had with eriteria and somalia are related to access to the sea. And they mention that they understand our intentions. Paradoxically our government doesn’t understand why we shouldn’t fight for the sea out let.

    The only thing I understand our policy regarding Eriteria is ” containment policy for a limited time “. I support this policy for two reasons: a) The eriterians should fully understand their government’s actions and should embrace Ethiopia’s future action like the Somali’s did and b) Eriterians should learn doing their lanudry by themselves. We don’t have to pay our beloved young men to solve Eriterian problems as long as it doesn’t bring significant economic and political importance for us. The Eriterians have began to realize their shattered over ambitions, but they are not still bold enough to take action. It seems they expect Ethiopia to do the job for them. I guess this is not acceptable. Hence I support our prime minister’ policy of containment in this reagrd. But the what worries me is the fact that eriteria could continue to be supported by Arabs to destablize Ethiopia, and the political wind at the white house can not be predictable. Hence it is time to make a wise decision by our primer to make his developemnt and peace legacy in Ethiopia lasting. I hope and pray that he will work to make us remeber him in grace for ever. I am confident many sane minded Ethiopians recognise his economic achievement in that country.

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