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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 14:57 GMT
Horn peace shaky three years on
By Jonah Fisher
BBC, Asmara

It is three years to the day since the peace agreement was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea bringing to an end a bloody border conflict which lasted two years and cost 80,000 lives.

Ethiopian troops
Tension has been growing in recent months
Implementing the peace agreement has proved difficult though.

The Boundary Commission - a key part of the agreement has had its ruling rejected by Ethiopia.

They are unhappy that the small but highly symbolic town of Badme has been awarded to Eritrea.

Now three years on - talk of war is once again in the air with much of the agreement appearing to be in tatters.

Departure

Eritrea's position has remained firm throughout this process. There will be no dialogue or discussion until Ethiopia accepts the ruling of the Boundary Commission.

Any talks now they say would only complicate the issue and lead to rising tensions.

The chance of the Boundary Commission's work being accepted by Ethiopia now seem very slim indeed.

Next week it is expected that the Boundary Commission will effectively pack up and leave its headquarters in Eritrea. Just the bare essentials in staff will be left behind to keep the office nominally open.

With the Commission on its way, attention is turning to where the peace process goes now.

Envoy

The appointment of a United Nations peace envoy is imminent - with the former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy tipped to get the job.

The post will be a difficult one with both sides firmly entrenched behind their negotiating positions.

Frustration within Eritrea is growing that the international community - and particularly the organisations who signed as guarantors of the peace agreement have taken no punitive measures against Ethiopia.

A diplomatic offensive across Europe and North America has produced no tangible results while much to the annoyance of the Eritreans, some senior diplomats in Addis Ababa have even openly supported the Ethiopian position.

Two weeks ago tensions rose when the United Nations mission reported Eritrean troop movements from the Central to the Western Sector.

Since then the UN says the situation in the buffer zone between the two countries has remained tense but military stable with no significant changes in troop locations.




SEE ALSO:
New rebel force in Eritrea
02 May 03  |  Africa
Eritrean refugees head home
15 May 01  |  Africa
Country profile: Eritrea
10 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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