Tension rises between Ethiopia and Eritrea

Seyoum Mesfin, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister, has complained of a build-up of 30,000 Eritrean troops in the temporary Security Zone set up 25 kilometres inside Eritrea. He has called on the United Nations Organisation to investigate and warns that “appeasing Eritrea serves no good other than triggering yet another round of war”. He also accused Asmara of “preventing the free movement of the UN peacekeeping mission inside the buffer zone”.

Eritrea refutes these claims as fabrications and a government official in Asmara ridiculed the accusations made by Addis Ababa. Eritrea accuses Ethiopia of slowing down the peace process between the countries. The Eritrean Commissioner for Coordination with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, UNMEE, Andebrhan Weldegiorgis, claims that Ethiopia has failed to provide useful information on minefields, declaring “Almost a year and a half after the signing (of the Algiers cease-fire), the core provisions of the Agreement remain outstanding due to Ethiopia’s non-compliance”.

Asmara also accuses Ethiopia of failing to move its army to below the southern line of the Temporary Security Zone, “pursuing a declared policy of subversion, looting and hostilities” inside this zone. The Asmara press has accused Ethiopia of “beating the war drums again”(New Asmarino, 2001.11.22)

The United Nations force, UNMEE, declares that the situation is calm and there is no basis for the Ethiopian claims. UNMEE director Legwaila Joseph Legwaila declared to the Ethiopian press in Addis Ababa, “We have found nothing to suggest that the Eritrean Army is on alert”. He said that UNMEE has not found proof to substantiate the claims.


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