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DATE=4/21/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43178 TITLE=ETHIOPIA / ERITREA INDEPENDENCE BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=ADDIS ABABA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ERITREA'S PRESIDENT SAYS ETHIOPIA'S GOVERNMENT MAY TRY DIVIDING THE COUNTRY IF IT LOSES SUPPORT IN THEIR ONGOING BORDER WAR. BUT AS V-O-A EAST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT SCOTT STEARNS REPORTS, ETHIOPIA SAYS IT STANDS UNITED AGAINST ERITREAN AGGRESSION. TEXT: ERITREAN PRESIDENT ISAYAS AFEWORKI SAYS ETHIOPIAN LEADERS ARE CONCERNED ONLY ABOUT THEIR OWN REGION AND WOULD THINK NOTHING OF DUMPING THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IF THEY CANNOT CONTROL IT. PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS ETHNIC TIGRAYAN OFFICIALS RUNNING ETHIOPIA'S GOVERNMENT ARE INTERESTED ONLY IN KEEPING THE COUNTRY TOGETHER IF THEY CAN CONTINUE TO INTIMIDATE THEIR OPPONENTS. /// ISAYAS ACT ONE /// THEIR COMMITMENT TO ETHIOPIA IS A PRETENTION. THEY ARE COMMITED TO ETHIOPIA IF THEY CAN CONTROL ETHIOPIA, CONTROL ETHIOPIA BY DIVIDING IT AND WEAKENING THE GROUPS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE A THREAT TO THIS GANG. /// END ACT /// PRESIDENT ISAYAS HELPED TIGRAYAN LEADERS TAKE POWER IN ETHIOPIA IN 1991, DEFEATING ETHIOPIAN LEADER MENGISTU HAILLE MARIAM. PRESIDENT ISAYAS THEN LED ERITREA TO INDEPENDENCE FROM ETHIOPIA TWO YEARS LATER, A MOVE HE SAYS TIGRAYAN LEADERS WOULD NOW LIKE TO FOLLOW USING CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR SELF-DETERMINATION. /// ISAYAS ACT TWO /// DIVIDING ETHIOPIA AND CONTROLLING IT IS AN OPTION. IF THEY CAN DO IT. THEN THEY ARE FOR ETHIOPIA. IF THIS DOMINATION OF ETHIOPIA AND CONTROL OF ETHIOPIA BY DIVIDING, MANIPULATING, AND SUPPRESING IS NOT GOING TO WORK, THEY WILL HAVE TO RESORT TO THE PREVIOUS AGENDA OF INDEPENDENCE OF TIGRAY. /// END ACT /// PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE GOAL OF TIGRAYAN LEADERS INCLUDING ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER MELES ZENAWI. THE PRIME MINISTER SAYS TIGRAYAN AUTONOMY WAS PART OF THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST THE MENGISTU ARMY, BUT HE BELIEVES ETHIOPIA'S NOW MORE-FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT REMOVES THE NEED FOR INDEPENDENCE. /// MELES ACT ONE /// I THINK THE INDEPENDENCE OF TIGRAY OR ANY OTHER REGION OF ETHIOPIA IS FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES OVER, WAS OVER WHEN THE CONSTITUTION WAS ENSHRINED. WHEN THE RIGHT OF SELF-DETERMINATION WAS ENSHRINED, IT WAS NOT INTENDED TO BRING ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE OF ALL SORTS OF PLACES. IT WAS INTENDED TO REASSURE PEOPLE THAT THIS IS NOT A PRISON WITHOUT WINDOWS, THAT THIS IS A VOLUNTARY UNION OF PEOPLES FOR A COMMON PURPOSE. /// END ACT /// PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS REGIONAL LEADERS ARE FREE TO CAMPAIGN FOR INDEPENDENCE IN ETHIOPIA, JUST AS HIS E-P-R-D-F GOVERNMENT IS FREE TO CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE COUNTRY IS STRONGER TOGETHER. /// MELES ACT TWO /// THE E-P-R-D-F STRONGLY BELIEVES THAT WE HAVE CREATED A SOLID BASIS FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE TOGETHER, THAT UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA AT HEART COULD NOT, SHOULD NOT CONTEMPLATE SECESSION. BUT THAT'S OUR VIEW. IT IS THEIR RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THIS JUST AS IT IS OUR RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THEM POLITICALLY, NOT BY MUZZLING THEM OR BY DENYING THEM THEIR RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION. /// END ACT /// AS FOR ERITREA, PRIME MINISTER MELES BELIEVES THE COUNTRY HAS HAD MIXED RESULTS SINCE INDEPENDENCE. HE DOES NOT SUPPORT THOSE IN ETHIOPIA CALLING FOR ITS REUNION, BUT HE DOES SAY HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT THERE, A CHANGE THAT WOULD REMOVE PRESIDENT ISAYAS FROM POWER. /// MELES ACT THREE /// I FEEL THAT INTERNALLY, MORE TOLERANT POLITICS IN ERITREA WOULD ON THE WHOLE CONTRIBUTE TO AN EXTERNALLY TOLERANT POLICY ON THE PART OF AN ERITREAN GOVERNMENT. THE FATE OF NATIONS WILL NOT DEPEND ON THE IDEOSYNCRACIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND THEREFORE WE WILL HAVE A MORE SECURE FUTURE. SO, IN THAT SENSE, I THINK IT WOULD BE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION. BUT THAT IS AS FAR AS IT GOES. /// END ACT /// PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS HE DOES NOT INTEND TO HELP REMOVE PRESIDENT ISAYAS BY FORCE. HE SAYS HE IS ONLY CONSULTING WITH ERITREAN OPPOSITION GROUPS THAT HE BELIEVES CAN TAKE THE COUNTRY IN A BETTER DIRECTION. PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS ETHIOPIA AND SUDAN ARE PLOTTING TO OVERTHROW HIS GOVERNMENT BY ARMING ERITREAN MILITIAMEN IN NORTHERN ETHIOPIA AND EASTERN SUDAN. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/JWH/PLM 21-Apr-99 4:22 AM EDT (0822 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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