Ethiopia: News Briefs, 5/5/99

Ethiopia: News Briefs, 5/5/99

ETHIOPIA: IRIN News Briefs, 5 May

OAU chairman due in as Addis rejects official's comments

OAU chairman, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, is expected to visit Ethiopia and Eritrea this week in a bid to broker an agreement between the two countries on how to implement the OAU peace plan. He will arrive after Ethiopia on Tuesday rejected a statement by OAU official, Ibrahim Dagash, during a press briefing that a ceasefire must be secured "as a prelude to the implementation of the OAU framework agreement which both sides have accepted".

"I am absolutely certain that this is not OAU's position", government spokesperson Selome Tadesse told the Pan-African News Agency. "Regardless of Mr Dagash's opinion I am sure the OAU still stands by the framework agreement which requires Eritrean withdrawal from Ethiopian territory it still occupies for a ceasefire to take place."

EU and WFP pledge food aid

The EU announced on Tuesday that it would provide 30,000 mt of food to help 2.9 million people in Ethiopia affected by drought and another 400,000 people displaced by the border war with Eritrea. It said it also had another 20,000 mt available to be distributed according to needs.

WFP, meanwhile, said in a press release that it had signed an agreement with the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) to provide 45,351 mt of food aid valued at US $24.3m to people in the Tigray region who have been affected by the war. The vast majority of the displaced are subsistence farmers practising rain-fed agriculture in drought-prone areas, and many of these were not able to harvest their meher crop in 1998 because of the war, WFP said.

Aid worker "pardoned", but not yet freed

The "pardon" of a kidnapped French aid worker by an Ethiopian rebel group on Tuesday has not yet brought about his release, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) and the French authorities confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday.

The rebel Ethiopian group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), based in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, said on Tuesday it had "pardoned" Eric Couly and urged French diplomats to collect him from the Ogaden region because it would "neither hand him over to Ethiopia nor send him to another place." Couly, a water engineer with ACF, was kidnapped in the Somali Region on 3 April during an evaluation of pastoralists' water points.

A spokesperson at the French embassy in Nairobi told IRIN on Wednesday that it had communicated the ONLF statement to France and was "awaiting instructions from Paris". "We have the press statement; we don't know if it's true or not," she said. ACF in Addis Ababa said the rebels' communique sounded like "pretty good news" but that there was cross-checking to be done to verify the details and "he is not released yet".

The ONLF statement said it had "pardoned" Couly despite his "misdeeds" in allegedly "transporting food, medicine and logistics to the Ethiopian troops". The ONLF's political secretary, Abdi Sirad Dollal, said Couly had been sentenced to 18 months in jail but later pardoned by ONLF president Mohamed Omar Hassan, AFP reported.

Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to the north

Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday announced the resumption of domestic flights to the north of the country, suspended three months ago in the midst of the border war with Eritrea, Ethiopian television reported. The company moved its headquarters to Nairobi for three weeks in February in view of a resumption of hostilities along the disputed Ethiopian-Eritrean border. Flights to eastern Dire-Dawa resumed in mid-March.


Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 18:20:36 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: ETHIOPIA: News Briefs [19990505]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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