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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 14:09 GMT
Eritrea rejects new peace envoy
UN envoy to the Horn, Lloyd Axworthy
Axworthy faces a tough task
Eritrea has rejected the appointment of a new United Nations envoy, tasked with breaking the deadlock in its border dispute with Ethiopia.

Tensions have been rising since Ethiopia rejected a world court ruling, giving Eritrea the village of Badme, where a two-year border war began.

Eritrea sees the UN envoy as an alternative to the border ruling.

Ethiopia had earlier said it was keen to work closely with former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy.

But Eritrean presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel said there was no point in the special envoy going to Asmara.

"We have conveyed to the Secretary General that the concept of a special envoy is not acceptable to us as it would constitute an alternative mechanism to demarcate the border," he said.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Eritrea says that Ethiopia has been looking for an "alternative mechanism" since it rejected the Boundary Commission's ruling.


Some say that Mr Axworthy, who was closely involved in the campaign to ban landmines, has been given an impossible job, with the two sides' positions so far apart.

But western powers are expected to step up their mediation efforts this month, to try to end the present stalemate.

Badme village
Ethiopia and Eritrea began their war in dusty Badme

Eritrea sees the solution to the dispute as already existing in the form of the Boundary Commission's ruling.

It says that resolving the problem is simply a question of forcing Ethiopia to comply.

Since leaving public office, Mr Axworthy has been a director on the board of Human Rights Watch - a campaigning organisation which last year called Eritrea "a country under siege from its own government".

Establishing a constructive relationship with that government will be critical to any chance Mr Axworthy has of breaking the deadlock in this increasingly troubled process.

Eritrea denies 'trouble-making'
31 Dec 03  |  Africa
Horn move to ease border tension
19 Dec 03  |  Africa
Horn border marking postponed
30 Oct 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Ethiopia
10 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Eritrea
10 Oct 03  |  Country profiles

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