- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2002

From combined dispatches
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia An international panel handed down its ruling yesterday defining a border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, seeking to end a conflict that killed more than 70,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Hours after receiving the verdict, the two Horn of Africa foes were in disagreement, with Ethiopia saying the ruling vindicated its land claims.
Eritrean state television said Ethiopia was lying by saying the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague had awarded Addis Ababa land it claimed was its territory.
"It's a victory for both peoples, especially for the Eritrean people," said an Eritrean state television announcer, crying, in a midevening commentary.
"A lot of [Ethiopian] boasting will not do any good now."
The court will publish its decision widely on Monday but handed its ruling to the two countries yesterday, which was seen as a key step to cementing peace in the Horn of Africa after the two countries' 1998-2000 border war.
Relations between the countries remain bitter, with memories on both sides of the deaths of more than 70,000 people, many of them in World War I-style trench warfare.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, speaking after the Ethiopian Cabinet met and accepted the ruling, was sure the border vindicated Ethiopia's land claims.
"This is a victory of peace over aggression and violence. It is a victory of law over the rule of the jungle," Mr. Seyoum said in a statement.
He said territory awarded to Ethiopia included the villages of Zalambessa, Aiga, Altena, Yona Shihak, Kolobirda, Adi-Kutu (central), Badme, Bada and Bure.
He added that some land west of Badme had been awarded to Eritrea.
In Asmara, the Eritrean capital, a diplomatic source confirmed that Badme village and Zalambessa village had gone to Ethiopia and added, without elaborating, that some areas near Badme had been awarded to Eritrea.
In Addis Ababa, Brikete Abraha, a woman from Zalambessa, bowed down and kissed the ground when told the village would remain Ethiopian. She then looked into the sky and stretched out her hands in supplication to God.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged both countries to accept and implement the border commission's decision.
Amara Essy, secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity, in a statement, called on the parties to cooperate with U.N. peacekeepers to enable the frontier to be marked on the ground a difficult task in a region still heavily mined.
A peace accord in December 2000 gave the court the job of demarcating the border, which it did by examining colonial treaties, international law and evidence provided by both sides.
For many Ethiopians, other key issues include their demand for control over the Red Sea port of Assab for their landlocked country of 67 million and opposition to Eritrea's independence in 1993 from its much larger neighbor.
However, the border commission has no mandate to examine those two matters.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has faced signs of disquiet about the prospect of the commission's ruling, with opposition demonstrations calling for the experts to restore Ethiopia's access to Assab, diplomats say.
Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia, was granted independence in 1993 with President Isayas Afewerki at the helm and the personal blessing of Mr. Meles.
The two men later fell out, allowing niggling disputes over economic issues and a patch of territory in Badme to deteriorate into war in 1998.

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