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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: No demarcation unless ruling changed, say Tigrayan officials

ADDIS ABABA, 31 July 2003 (IRIN) - Senior Tigrayan officials have said they will not allow demarcation of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea to go ahead unless changes are made to the controversial ruling.

Dr Solomon Inquai, the speaker of Tigray's regional council told IRIN on Thursday that “no-one in their right mind” would allow officials from the independent Boundary Commission to construct the new 1,000 km border.

“They cannot come,” Solomon said bluntly. “We will not let them. Nobody in their right mind will let them demarcate, because everybody is against this.”

His defiance comes after the president of Tigray, which borders Eritrea, said on Wednesday the regional government would not accept the boundary ruling. Tsegaye Berhe told a meeting of the regional council that the decision was a “grave mistake”, and reiterated warnings that potential trouble could flare up if the ruling was not changed.

The independent Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) ruled in April 2002 on a new, internationally-recognised border, which both countries said they would accept as "final and binding" .

But the commission, set up after the two-year border war between the sides, ruled that the town of Badme in the western sector – where the conflict flared up - was in Eritrea. Ethiopia is unhappy with the ruling and has called for changes.

Demarcation, which has been delayed twice, is now expected to start in October in the eastern sector.

“It is an unjust ruling, it is not accepted by the Tigray government but more importantly it is not accepted by the people of Tigray," Solomon told IRIN. “The border will be demarcated if the boundary commission can adequately explain how they have reached this unjust conclusion.”

The Hague-based commission has acknowledged that the schedule is dependent "on the various critical factors being met on time to enable key milestones to be achieved as scheduled".

The head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, said on Thursday the UN was “not going to get involved” in regional politics.

“In Ethiopia we deal with the government of Ethiopia, in Eritrea we deal with the government of Eritrea, and we don’t deal with the regional governments,” he told a press briefing in Addis Ababa.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict



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