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DATE=4/19/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43160 TITLE=ETHIOPIA / ERITREA / O-A-U BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=ADDIS ABABA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ETHIOPIA'S PRIME MINISTER SAYS ERITREA IS NOT SERIOUS ABOUT REGIONAL EFFORTS TO END THE BORDER WAR BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES. BUT AS V-O-A EAST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT SCOTT STEARNS REPORTS, ERITREA SAYS IT IS ETHIOPIA THAT IS DELAYING THE DEAL. TEXT: PRIME MINISTER MELES ZENAWI SAYS ETHIOPIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN READY TO PUSH AHEAD WITH THE PEACE PLAN. ETHIOPIA ACCEPTED THE DEAL LAST YEAR. ERITREA SIGNED ON LAST MONTH FOLLOWING BATTLEFIELD LOSES AROUND THE BORDER TOWN OF BADAME. NOW THAT HE HAS ACCEPTED THE DEAL, ERITREAN PRESIDENT ISAYAS AFEWORKI SAYS IT IS TIME THE ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY (O-A-U) NEGOTIATES A CEASEFIRE. PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS PRESIDENT ISAYAS IS TRYING TO FOOL THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY INTO BELIEVING HE IS A PEACE-MAKER WHEN THE PRIME MINISTER SAYS ERITREA ACCEPTED THE O-A-U PACKAGE ONLY BECAUSE THEY WERE BEATEN. /// MELES ACT ONE /// HE DIDN'T ACCEPT THE O-A-U PACKAGE. THE O-A-U PACKAGE ENVISONS ERITREA WITHDRAWING FROM BADAME VOLUNTARILY. ISAYAS ACCEPTED THE PACKAGE 48 HOURS AFTER HE WAS PUSHED OUT OF BADAME INVOLUNTARILY. HE DID NOT WITHDRAW FROM BADAME. HE FLED FROM BADAME. /// END ACT /// THE O-A-U PLAN CALLS ON BOTH COUNTRIES TO PULL BACK THEIR TROOPS, WITH INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONTROLLING DISPUTED AREAS WHILE A BORDER COMMISSION DRAWS UP A NEW MAP. PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS IF ERITREA IS SERIOUS ABOUT THE PLAN, PRESIDENT ISAYAS SHOULD AGREE TO PULL HIS TROOPS OUT OF ALL AREAS ADMINISTERED BY ETHIOPIA BEFORE FIGHTING BEGAN LAST MAY. THE O-A-U HAS FAILED TO CLARIFY WHETHER ITS PLAN CALLS FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF ALL ERITREAN TROOPS, OR JUST THOSE AROUND BADAME. PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS IT IS CLEAR TO HIM THAT THE SPIRIT OF THE AGREEMENT IS NOT BEING MET AS LONG AS ERITREA CONTINUES TO OCCUPY ETHIOPIAN TERRITORY. /// MELES ACT TWO /// THE SPIRIT AND THE LETTER OF THE AGREEMENT IS THAT A COUNTRY THAT INVADES AND OCCUPIES HIS NEIGHBOR'S TERRITORY IS WRONG, AND A RETURN TO THE STATUS QUO ANTE IS NECESSARY FOR IT TO BE RESOLVED PEACEFULLY. THAT IS AN ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. /// END ACT /// PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS THERE CAN BE A CEASEFIRE BEFORE ERITREA WITHDRAWS AS LONG AS PRESIDENT ISAYAS PROMISES TO DO SO ON A SET TIMETABLE. PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS HE IS ALREADY COMPLYING WITH THE O-A-U PLAN, HAVING PULLED BACK HIS TROOPS FROM BADAME IN WHAT HE CALLS A "STRATEGIC RETREAT." THE PRESIDENT SAYS IT IS JUST COINCIDENCE THAT HE ACCEPTED THE DEAL DAYS AFTER FIGHTING AT BADAME. HE SAYS HE WAS WAITING FOR THE O-A-U TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PLAN. PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS IT IS ETHIOPIA THAT IS DELAYING THE DEAL BECAUSE HE BELIEVES CASUALTIES ON THE CENTRAL TSORONA FRONT AND IN FIGHTING AROUND BADAME HAS MADE ETHIOPIA'S T-P-L-F LEADERSHIP DETERMINED TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT. /// ISAYAS ACT ONE /// THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FRAMEWORK IS A BITTER PILL FOR THE T-P-L-F TO ACCEPT AT THIS MOMENT. THEY HAVE LOST MORE THAN 100 TANKS, THE BEST OF THEIR TANKS. THEY HAVE LOST THE BEST OF THEIR CREWS. THE MONEY SPENT ON THE AMMUNITION THAT WAS PURCHASED IS TOO MUCH. IT IS BEYOND ANYONE'S IMAGINATION. THE STRESS, THE FINANCIAL STRESS, THE ECONOMIC STRESS ON THE GOVERNMENT IS TREMENDOUS. /// END ACT /// PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS HE HAS NO INTEREST IN DELAYING THE O-A-U PLAN BECAUSE HE SAYS IT IS ETHIOPIA THAT HAS BROUGHT ON THIS BORDER WAR AGAINST THE WISHES OF THE ERITREAN PEOPLE. /// ISAYAS ACT TWO /// THEY THINK THEY HAVE A BORDER PROBLEM. WE CAN SOLVE THIS BORDER PROBLEM WITHOUT GOING INTO ANY LONG-TERM FIGHTING. WE DON'T HAVE AN INTEREST TO FIGHT THEM, SO IT IS NOT A MATTER OF WINNING OR NOT WINNING TO US. /// END ACT /// PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS ETHIOPIA IS TRYING TO ANNEX PARTS OF ERITREAN TERRITORY BY PUSHING NORTHWEST INTO THE BADAME PLAIN. PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS IT IS ETHIOPIA THAT IS UNDER THREAT FROM AN ERITREAN GOVERNMENT THAT REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE RIVAL BORDER CLAIMS, INSTEAD LAUNCHING WHAT THE PRIME MINISTER CALLS A SURPRISE ATTACK ON A FORMER ALLY. /// MELES ACT THIRD /// I AM STILL SURPRISED BECAUSE I THINK THERE WAS NO NEED TO FIGHT. THERE WAS NO NEED TO FIGHT ON THE BORDER ISSUE. WE COULD HAVE TAKEN THE CASE TO THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE. WE ALL AGREE THAT THE COLONIAL BOUNDARIES ARE SACROSANCT. WE SEEM TO ALL AGREE THAT A BINDING INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION IS THE WAY FORWARD, SO THE BORDER ISSUE WAS NOT DESTINED TO LEAD TO WAR. /// END ACT /// NOW THAT IT HAS LED TO WAR, BOTH SIDES ARE BLAMING THE OTHER FOR CONTINUING THE FIGHT WITH MORE THAN 300-THOUSAND MEN ALONG THE ROCKY BORDER, MOST DUG-IN AT THE WESTERN FRONT AROUND BADAME. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/JWH 19-Apr-99 7:51 AM EDT (1151 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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