Home | News    Friday 25 June 2004

Lingering border row prompts Eritrea to boycott AU summit in Ethiopia

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ASMARA, June 25 (AFP) — Eritrea said Friday it would not attend next month’s African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia because of what it called Addis Ababa’s illegal occupation of its sovereign territory.

"I don’t think we can possibly send a representative of our country to Ethiopia when Ethiopia... is forcibly occupying our sovereign territory," Yemane Gebremeskel, President Issaias Afeworki’s chief of staff, told AFP.

The official also accused Ethiopia of violating international law and the founding charter of the AU, which replaced the Organisation of African Unity in 2002 and which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The Horn of Africa neighbours went to war between 1998 and 2000, mainly over a border dispute that remains unresolved.

Ethiopia has rejected a ruling on the path of the border handed down by an international commission in 2002, saying it contradicted other provisions of a peace accord the two countries signed in Algiers in 2000.

Eritrea, meanwhile, has dismissed appeals for a negotiated settlement, insisting that under the Algiers accord, both sides undertook to accept the ruling as final and binding.

Four years after the last shots were fired, the border remains closed, the process of physically marking it out has not begun and relations are virtually non-existent.

"We have sent several envoys to African countries with messages from President Issaias Afeworki to explain our position and ask the AU to take a very clear stand on this issue," said Yemane Gebremeskel.

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