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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Petrol sales suspended in Eritrea
Petrol pump attendant filling tank
Eritrea imports all its refined fuel
Eritrea has banned the sale of petrol to the public because of the rising price of oil on world markets.

Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed said diesel would remain available, but petrol had to be conserved for essential use.

Earlier this month petrol went up by 40% and diesel 25% after a month of fuel rationing.

Shortages are widespread as the country struggles to pay off debts incurred during its border war with Ethiopia.

Superfluous consumption

"Our priority is to provide petrol to public services and development programmes in the best interest of the nation," Mr Ahmed told AFP news agency.

The suspension of the sale of petrol should not provoke anxiety
Ali Abdu Ahmed
Information minister
"We do not want superfluous consumption. We cannot let the people with money consume all the petrol," he said.

Eritrea imports all its refined fuel products and is short of foreign exchange after buying large quantities of modern aircraft to use in the war, which ended four years ago.

The border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been closed ever since, depriving Eritrea of access to its natural markets.

Ethiopia used to be Eritrea's largest export market and the fees charged for the use of its Red Sea ports used to bring millions of dollars into the nation's coffers.

The minister did not indicate when the suspension would be lifted.

Eritrea imposes fuel rations
22 Sep 04  |  Africa
Fuel rationing hits Eritrea
05 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Eritrea
27 May 03  |  Country profiles

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