Ethiopia: Bombs Behind the Lines


May 31, 2006: Eritrea and Ethiopia continue refusing to negotiate a settlement to their border dispute. Not much hope that this potential cause of war will be defused any time soon. Both countries have too many internal problems to distract them.

May 29, 2006: Bombs wounded 42 people in the south Ethiopian town of Jijiga. Hotels and cafes were targeted. As yet no group has taken responsibility for the terror bombings. This is the 12th bombing attack since January in Ethiopian cities. Ethiopia has accused Eritrea of supporting the "mystery" bombing campaign.

May 28, 2006: The Eritrean government said that it will host peace talks between the Sudan government and the Eastern Front rebel group. The negotiations will begin on June 13 and be held in the Eritrean capital of Asmara. Eritrea confirmed that Sudan and the Eastern Front had signed an initial agreement this week in preliminary discussions held in Asmara. The Eastern Front is am umbrella resistance organization comprising several Sudanese rebel groups.

May 25, 2006: Eritrea is detaining ten local UN staff members. The Eritrean government released one UN staffer earlier this week. "Detaining" (ie, arresting and/or threatening) UN staffers is part of Eritrea's policy of badgering the United Nations. Eritrea continues to deny UNMEE observers helicopter flight rights in part of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ).

May 24, 2006: This is Eritrea's 15th anniversary of independence from Ethiopia.

May 23, 2006: The United States once again said that the UN Security Council should begin cutting back on the UNMEE operation if there is "no progress" in resolving the Ethiopia-Eritrea boundary dispute by the end of May. On May 15 the UN SEcurity Council passed a resolution stating that Ethiopia and Eritrea had until the end of May to accept the boundary commission's border. The UN also demanded that Eritrea give UN observers full access to the TSZ.

Also on May 23, Ethiopia's ruling party, the Ethiopian Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) reached an agreement with two key opposition parties, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces. Essentially all three agreed to avoid any groups who would use violent means to "demolish" Ethiopia.

May 22, 2006: Eritrea announced that it will create a "new Free Port Zone" at its port in Massawa. This proposal has been under discussion for years. The port proposal makes sense from several angles. The tax-free shipping point will increase traffic for Eritrea. It also pleases several East African countries, particularly Uganda and Sudan. Eritrea is buying allies with its port facilities, the same way Ethiopia uses its control of Nile waters to influence its neighbors.


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