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Eritrea Accuses Ethiopia of Border Violation


Eritrea has accused neighboring Ethiopia of violating an earlier ruling on the exact location of their disputed border.

Eritrea says the Ethiopian government is sending its citizens to live in an area called Badme, which, according to the independent Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, belongs to Eritrea.

Ethiopia last year rejected the boundary commission's ruling that Badme belongs to Eritrea, effectively stopping a demarcation exercise and keeping the exact location of the border in limbo.

An official with Eritrea's foreign ministry, Ghirmai Ghebre Mariam, told VOA Friday the Ethiopian government, and not individual Ethiopians, is behind the settlements in Badme.

"They are putting people there. It's against the resolution of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Boundary Commission. They [Ethiopian citizens] cannot wander [in Badme]without the permission of the government," Mr. Ghirmai said.

Mr. Ghirmai did not say how many Ethiopians were living in Badme. He called for a swift resolution to the dispute.

"The border has to be demarcated if we are going to [be] save[d] from all these problems. Ethiopians have to accept the boundary commission's decision which is final and binding, and eventually Badme remains on the side of Eritrea," he said.

A spokesman for the Ethiopian government, Zemedkun Tekle, told VOA his government was still investigating the situation to get what he said was "the real picture there."

He said his government was committed to a peaceful resolution of the dispute and would not do anything to jeopardize a peaceful outcome.

"We are not going to take any kind of action which provokes the border dispute. We have made clear this, and the theme you are raising now hasn't yet been confirmed - it is simply a rumor, and we have to confirm to say something about that," Mr. Tekle said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea had waged a bitter war over their border from 1998 to 2000, during which some 70,000 people were killed.

Under a peace agreement signed in 2000, the independent Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission was created to mark the 1,000-kilometer border, while more than 4,000 United Nations peacekeepers were dispatched to the region to ensure the stability of the border.

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