Ethiopia-Eritrea: OAU Peace Mission put bacK, 5/7/99

Ethiopia-Eritrea: OAU Peace Mission put bacK, 5/7/99

X ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: OAU peace mission put back

ADDIS ABABA, 7 May (IRIN) - One year after the outbreak of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, peace remains remote. A peace mission by OAU Chairman and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore to the two countries has been postponed, and some diplomatic sources say it has been cancelled altogether.

In its place, a mission by the foreign minister of Burkina Faso is expected in the coming days, diplomatic sources told IRIN in Addis Ababa. UN Special Envoy Mohamed Sahnoun was reported to be leaving Addis Ababa on Friday morning for the Eritrean capital Asmara via Jeddah.

Sahnoun's latest mission "did not achieve any breakthrough," a diplomatic source said. The Ethiopian government spokeswoman, Selome Tadesse, said there was "nothing new happening" on the diplomatic or military front. While both sides in the conflict claim to accept an OAU Framework Agreement for peace, their differing interpretations have resulted in a diplomatic stalemate.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Thursday lashed out at what he called the international community's "double standards" in dealing with conflicts around the world. Violations of international law, he said, are not tolerated in other parts of the world, but in Africa, are greeted just with "empty sermons, crocodile tears and vacuous lamentations".

Regarding the peace plan, Ethiopia claims the OAU has accepted its interpretation. A letter from Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the OAU late last year states that "the high-level delegation underscored in its clarification, that with regards to article 3 [regarding redeployment of Eritrean forces], the Eritrean forces are to withdraw from all Ethiopian border territories that they have occupied since 9 May 1998".

The text of the 11-point plan says only that Eritrea should withdraw from "Badme Town and its environs".

Apart from the Badme front, from which Ethiopia pushed back Eritrean forces in February, there are other fronts in the war: in particular the Tsorona area and Zal Ambessa. An Ethiopian official also said that Eritrean forces were 14 km inside Ethiopian territory at Bure, on the route that links the Eritrean port of Assab to Ethiopia.

Eritrea's position has also remained essentially unchanged since the loss of the Badme territory in February. A foreign ministry statement of 26 April affirmed Eritrea's "strict adherence" to the OAU Framework and the Asmara government's "readiness for re-deployment as clearly stipulated by, and in the letter and spirit of, the Framework Agreement".

The OAU chairmanship will pass to Algeria in July. However, the three-country group assigned to pursue a peace deal in the conflict - Burkina Faso, Djibouti and Zimbabwe - are expected to continue as the "high level delegation" mandated by the OAU to pursue peace.


Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 14:23:50 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: OAU peace mission put back [19990507]

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

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