Global Policy Forum

Horn Peace Setback


By Martin Plaut

January 4, 2001

Ethiopia has said it refuses to withdraw its troops currently inside Eritrea, until the Eritrean Government honours its own redeployment commitments. According to the Ethiopian Defence Ministry, the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces will be delayed indefinitely owing to Asmara's hesitation to implement the agreement signed by both countries on the redeployment of troops.

Despite this setback, the United Nations is continuing to express confidence that the current obstacles to peace can be overcome.

The peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea ran into difficulties late last month at a military meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.


In terms of the peace agreement between the two countries, Ethiopia is required to submit plans for withdrawing its troops to the positions they held prior to the outbreak of war in May 1998. But Eritrea is insisting that the withdrawal should be discussed with them, rather than implemented unilaterally. Hence the impasse.

The United Nations mission which is supervising the peace process acknowledges the difficulty, but is confident that the problem can be resolved. Political discussions are now under way, with the UN special representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, in contact with both governments.

Both sides have agreed to meet again in Nairobi on 23 January.


Most of the 4,200 peacekeeping troops will have been deployed by the end of this month. The UN also points to continuing progress in confidence building measures. An east-west air corridor will come into operation on Thursday, and night flights will begin on Friday. Taken as a whole, the UN argues, the peace process continues to make progress, despite the current setbacks.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea


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