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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 16:06 GMT
Eritrea bans Ethiopian songs
Cafe in Asmara
Many Eritreans speak Amharic as their first language
Amharic music, which originates in Ethiopia, has been banned in Eritrea.

There has been no official announcement of the ban but the owners of bars and music shops say they have been told not to play the music in public.

This is another state control on people's lives

The BBC's Alex Last
Relations between the two countries remain strained after the 1998-2000 border war.

The former BBC correspondent in Eritrea, Alex Last, says that songs in Amharic are often about love, while those in the Eritrean language of Tigrinya are more often about war and nationalism.

He says that Amharic songs were widely listened to in Eritrea, despite being banned for some time on the radio.

Morality campaign

During the war, thousands of people of Eritrean origin were deported from Ethiopia and many speak Amharic as their first language.

President Isaias Afewerki
President Isaias has clamped down on dissent

In the past year, the Eritrean Government has clamped down on its critics, closing down newspapers and imprisoning journalists and dissenters.

"This is another state control on people's lives," our former correspondent says.

The authorities have also been pursuing a new public morality campaign in recent months.

Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross organised the exchange of prisoners of war.

Following the war, an international court determined the border between the two countries but tensions remain, with both sides claiming that the court had awarded them the disputed town of Badme.

The physical frontier has not yet been demarcated on the ground.

This process is due to start later this year.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993.


Border decision

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Background:

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TALKING POINT
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Africa
13 Aug 02 | Africa
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