Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Eritrea Says Ethiopia 'Beating Battle Drums'

Eritrea's president on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of "beating battle drums" and said a new border war was likely if Addis Ababa did not accept a legally binding 2002 boundary ruling.

President Isaias Afewerki, in a speech celebrating Eritrea's 14th anniversary of independence from Ethiopia, also criticised the international community for not forcing Ethiopia to accept the ruling of an independent boundary commission in Eritrea's favour.

"It is no secret that the TPLF regime is not only beating battle drums again, but is preparing for a massive military campaign," Isaias said, referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's former rebel Tigrayan People's Liberation Front.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to accept the ruling under terms of a deal to end their 1998-2000 border war, which killed 70,000 people.

The commission awarded the flashpoint town of Badme to Eritrea, but Addis Ababa has refused to allow final demarcation of the border.

Meles in November said he accepted the ruling in principle but insisted on dialogue with Asmara first, which Eritrea refused as unnecessary under the peace deal.

"The TPLF regime, emboldened by the support of its proponents, has not only shunned the commission's decision but views war as the only resort," Isaias said.

"At the same time, we have no apprehension in confronting what may unfold, bearing in mind that the Security Council is responsible for all consequences," he said.


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