U.N. Chief renews his offer for mediation between Eritrea and Ethiopia

July 31st, 2008 | by addis portal |

July 30, 2008 (UNITED NATIONS) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday renewed his offer to help break the stalemate in the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute, which led the Security Council to end UN monitoring of the row.

In a statement released by his press office, the secretary general noted that the 15-member council pulled back after both parties rejected options for a possible follow-on presence.

“The secretary general regrets this decision by the parties but welcomes the decision of the council to continue to remain actively seized of the matter,” it added.

Earlier in the day, the Security Council voted unanimously to terminate the mandate of the 1,700-strong UN mission monitoring the border dispute (UNMEE), which expires Thursday.

Resolution 1827 calls on the two Horn of Africa rivals “to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other and to avoid provocative military activities.”

The council decision came in response to crippling restrictions imposed by Eritrea on the operation of UNMEE and Ethiopia’s refusal to recognize a binding verdict by an international boundary panel that granted the flashpoint border town of Badme to Eritrea.

Belgian Ambassador Jan Grauls told the council that the mission “had become impossible to implement” because Eritreans progressively limited peacekeepers’ movements — including restricting night patrols, supply routes and diesel fuel. The mission was also undermined by Ethiopia’s refusal to accept an independent boundary commission’s ruling in 2002 to award the key town of Badme to Eritrea, he said.

“The border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains total, and the United Nations is withdrawing without having been able to assist the two countries in finding a common ground, in spite of having tried all to achieve it,” Grauls said.

Under a 2000 Algiers peace deal which ended their two-year border war, Eritrea and Ethiopia had pledged to accept as “final and binding” a verdict by the panel on their dispute.

Ban expressed hope that the parties would be “able to break the current stalemate and create conditions necessary for the normalization of their relations, which is key to peace and stability in the region.”

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