Global Policy Forum

Ethiopia, Eritrea Interpret

CNN Online
July 15, 1999

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Differing interpretations of the peace agreement accepted by Ethiopia and Eritrea are delaying an end to 14-month war between the Horn of Africa neighbors.

Ethiopia's prime minister on Thursday accused Eritrea of backing away from an informal peace agreement by adding conditions to it.

The agreement had been announced Wednesday at a summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The OAU's informal "framework agreement" calls for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of troops from disputed territory. But the formal cease-fire agreement would still have to be signed by representatives of both sides. OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim told reporters in Algiers, Algeria, that both sides had agreed to the framework agreement and further mediation, but admitted "there are different interpretations." And Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, said Ethiopia has changed the terms of the agreement. Eritrea, he said, "gutted the substance of the package, added all sorts of preconditions and then said they have accepted the package."

The two countries went to war in May 1998 over a disputed border in largely barren piece of desert. Tens of thousands of troops from both sides have been killed and many more wounded or captured since the war began.

Under the OAU plan, the redeployment of troops is to begin "immediately after the cessation of hostilities." Both parties would accept the deployment of military observers in cooperation with the United Nations.

Eritrea is asking Ethiopia to compensate tens of thousands of Eritreans who human rights groups say were expelled from Ethiopia without their property. "It is imperative to fully compensate the deportees, if not for the irreparable harm done to them, at least for expropriated property," said Eritrean President Isias Afwerki.

It was not immediately clear whether the request for compensation was a firm one, nor was it clear how Ethiopia would respond to the request.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea


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