Eritrea/Ethiopia: Misguided, ill-informed editorial,



By Bejahizbu

04 Jan 2005


While is fully entitled to its editorial "Editorial: Senseless Act" pertaining to the border issue between Eritrea and Ethiopia that it posted on 4 Jan 2005, it is misguided and ill-informed because it disseminates distortions of publicly known and documented facts, to say the least.


The editorial kicks off with the statement “Some 50,000 angry Ethiopians demonstrated Sunday in Addis Ababa against their government’s plans to renew border talks with Eritrea”. With all due respect, border talks with Eritrea have long been conducted, are over, and the verdict is out and exists in the form of the Boundary commission’s decision of 13 April 2002. By Treaty of Algiers peace accord, agreed to, accepted, and signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia, once the decision has been pronounced, the case is closed, the talks cannot be renewed, renegotiated, or re-argued, the decision is final and binding without appeal or recourse of any kind. That is a publicly known, accepted and documented fact, Sirs and Madams of the


That being said, “plans, proposals, initiatives, moves, for talks/peace with Eritrea” is Ethiopia’s euphemism for saying NO to or defying the Algiers peace agreement because such thoughts manifestly constitute blatant violation of Algiers. Even then, to the “50,000 angry Ethiopians” although euphemistically expressed defiance of Algiers is acceptable it was not good enough to express total defiance of Algiers and that is what the protest was all about, which the government doesn’t necessarily object but won’t do it for fear of international repercussions, hence rather letting the detractors do it. Government and its detractors in Ethiopia are and have all along been on the same page in defying Algiers, which explains why the demo was so large (by some media account and Ethiopian claims now up to 150, 000) and was conducted incident-free. Thus, there is no reason not believe that the government co-organized the demo in disguise.


Other than that if the “50,000 angry Ethiopians” were really protesting “their government’s plans to renew border talks with Eritrea” then it would have only made sense because such plans constitute serious violation of the Algiers peace agreement and would have made the demonstrators more sensible than the government?


“When in 2000 the fighting stopped over a border that has at best always been poorly defined, it was agreed that the dispute over Badme would be settled by an independent boundary commission. In 2002 this commission ruled that the village belonged to Eritrea.” Again with all due respect, that is a totally ill informed statement. The mandate of the independent boundary commission has never been to determine sovereignty over Badme. The unequivocal mandate of the independent boundary commission was to Delimit and Demarcate the border shared between Eritrea and Ethiopia in its entirety wherever the chips may fall. And if one or another village, town, city, falls within the sovereignty of either country, then it is the result of the delimitation decision not a determination by the commission. Accordingly and contrary to the omniscient Sirs and Madams of, the commission DID NOT rule “that Badme village belonged to Eritrea” for which it didn’t have the mandate, but Badme happened, correctly so, to fall within Eritrea’s sovereignty as a mere result of the delimitation decision, sorry.


“The Ethiopian government immediately rejected the finding but by November last year, wiser counsels had prevailed. It is against this change of view that opposition politicians have been rousing crowds of angry demonstrators.” Continues the editorial. This is another ill informed statement. Ethiopia did not reject the finding of the boundary commission immediately. Ladies and Gentlemen of the, it is to the contrary. Ethiopia first ACCEPTED the decision with a big fanfare hailing it to heaven and even warning the int’l community to make sure Eritrea abides by the ruling unequivocally. Ethiopia’s “rejection” came long after Eritrea accepted the decision unequivocally following Ethiopia’s realization that Badme fell in Eritrea’s sovereignty, I beg your pardon, Sirs & Madams. I will come to the “November issue” later.


“Their (demonstrators) main protest is that a large village of some 5,000 inhabitants called Badme, is likely to be handed over to the Eritreans”. Thank you. That is, has been, and remains the protest of the government of Ethiopia as well (same as the demonstrators) even as we speak, after November 2004, contrary to the “change of view” the editorial claims, which must have resulted in Ethiopia’s withdrawal from sovereign Eritrean Badme already then? Where is the “change of view”? Am I missing something here - I don’t claim to be infallible and let every body be assured that I will publicly acknowledge if I were to be proven wrong in this regard, Sirs and Madams of


The Delimitation and Demarcation decision of the Boundary Commission is there to stay. Badme is Eritrean and not something “likely to be handed over to Eritreans”. That is the indelible result of the border decision.


“…by November last year, wiser counsels had prevailed. It is against this change of view that opposition politicians have been rousing crowds of angry demonstrators.” This is simply shamelessly fraudulent statement. There is no “change of view” pre and post November 25, 2004. Ethiopia remains adamantly defiant. Then, what Ethiopia announced was and remains by its own admission and by all accounts a barefaced violation of the Algiers peace agreement on 3 counts:

1.      The title of the “proposal” already negates the resolution of the dispute in defiance of the border decision

2.      Ethiopia’s ‘acceptance in principle’ of the border decision violates the sanctity of the delimitation and demarcation decision, which must be accepted unequivocally and in its entirety, no “acceptance in principle”, “acceptance in general”, plain acceptance or any other kind of acceptance. No partial acceptance/demarcation regardless of the percentage. So have both countries defined and determined the nature of the decision for the sane reason of avoiding any semblance of equivocation.

3.      Ethiopia’s shameless demand for dialogue to renegotiate part of the decision flatly violates the final and binding nature of the decision, which cannot be dialogued, renegotiated, re-argued, or re-debated.


“Worse, these demonstrators took place in the city that the African Union has chosen to make its headquarters. Everything, for which the AU stands from peaceful resolution of differences to the fostering of economic growth and prosperity, was being trampled under foot by Sunday’s crowds.” Concludes the editorial. No qualms with that. Certainly, AU and also the Arab League are avant-garde proponents of “peaceful resolution of differences”. But no one can be equally so certain if these organizations can claim this attribute for also UPHOLDING & DEFENDING the OUTCOME of peacefully settled differences, like the decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission? For why would the folks at propagate Ethiopia’s manifestly anti-peace “plans to renew border talks with Eritrea” when it is known to them and to the entire world that the border talks have already and long been peacefully conducted and the conclusive and binding outcome exists in the form of the decision of the Boundary Commission? The AU is co-signatory of the Algiers peace Agreement and therefore obliged by treaty to ensure strict adherence to the Algiers agreement. It is therefore inexplicable why the AU, which is located in Ethiopia, remains indifferent to things like “Ethiopia’s plans to renew border talks with Eritrea” when the AU knows well that it clearly violates the Algiers peace accord. Last time I checked, the AU did not renege on that- Again, I could be wrong on this?


After all, what doest it matter whether Ethiopians support or oppose “their government’s plan to renew border talks with Eritrea” when Eritrea has aptly exposed it as a serious violation of the Algiers peace agreement and is calling for strict adherence to that, with which entire world agrees? Are the folks at taking Eritrea for granted? Doesn’t Eritrea’s commentary on the issue matter to the folks at That would be disrespectful? Are the folks at going to impose Ethiopia’s will on Eritrea or compel Eritrea to that regardless?


With all due respect again, your analysis is way off the mark and knowing that you are peace-loving people I would appreciate it if you would rectify it for the sake of peace. Ethiopia’s “plans to renew border talks with Eritrea” as good as it might sound to you, it is bad news because it destroys the one and only peace attained per the Algiers peace agreement, by all accounts. Allow me to refer you to the following link for your kind information: . Thank you.


Beja Hizbu,

New Jersey, USA.