Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says he is strengthening his army in preparation for an attack by regional rival Eritrea. “Our defence forces have the capacity to deter aggression and to repulse it if it occurred,” Zenawi told Ethiopian members of parliament June 28.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war from 1998-2000. United Nations peacekeepers are monitoring a buffer zone along the border, but Ethiopia accuses Eritrean troops of infiltrating the zone. Under the deal to end their war, an independent boundary commission ruled on where the countries’ border should lie in 2002. It awarded the town of Badme to Eritrea, but Ethiopia has not handed it over.
Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said Meles’ comments were “paranoid” and an attempt to delay implementation of the boundary commission’s ruling. In November 2006, the commission gave the rivals a year to physically demarcate their border or risk having it set for them. (Kenya Broadcasting Corp., BBC, June 28)