Eritrea accuses Ethiopia of planning full-scale war

Eritrean soldiers celebrate the country’s anniversary of independence from Ethiopia May 23, 2000. PHOTO: REUTERS

The government of Eritrea told the United Nation Human Rights Council that its neighbour Ethiopia is planning to launch a full scale war against its territory.

Eritrean and Ethiopian troops recently clashed along their border. The countries are blaming one another for starting recent hostilities that included heavy border fighting around the Tserona central front, an area located south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

Girma Asmerom Tesfay, Eritrea’s United Nations Permanent Representative, said that there is clear evidence that Ethiopia has adopted a hostile policy towards his country.

“The evidence is their own statement that they have made in their parliament, and a lot of (Ethiopian) officials have been saying… that they will attack Eritrea, they will take military action, they have changed their policy towards Eritrea, they will go for a regime change…support opposition armed groups to attack,” Ambassador Asmerom told VOA.

He said that the June 12th confrontation between the two countries is further evidence that Ethiopia is seeking regime change and seeks occupation of his country.

“There was a major military engagement and aggression by Ethiopia using tanks, artilleries and ground forces,” he said.

Last week, Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States of playing a role of instigating the attack on its territory. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby dismissed the accusation and urged the two countries work towards a stable and peaceful region. “The United States, including our missions in both capitals and our mission to the U.N. in New York continues to engage with both Ethiopia and Eritrea, to urge restraint and to prevent escalation.”

But Ambassador Asmerom insists that the U.S. relationship with Ethiopia denotes a complicity in the attacks on his country.

“They have been supplying them with different equipment and ammunition in the name of fighting terrorism and they have been deploying [the weapons] around the border area, so that is a direct or indirect participation in the aggression against Eritrea,” he said.

Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.N. Tekeda Alemu dismissed the allegations as ‘preposterous and without merit’. He told VOA that the accusations against his country did not warrant a response, adding that perhaps the government of Eritrea should worry more about addressing the concerns of the U.N. human rights court.

Eritrea’s Ambassador Asmerom denies that his country is trying to deflect attention from human rights reports that accuse his country of “systematic, widespread” human rights abuses. A United Nations commission of inquiry recommended that Eritrea be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity that include enslavement of up to 400,000 people.

Asmerom also ruled out any possibilities for talks between the two countries, that have had a long standing border dispute, instead laying the blame on Ethiopia:

“They are the ones who are aggressing… the ones who are threatening…so the aggressor has to be condemned, very simple” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki moon recently met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Brussels, where he called on the leaders of the two countries to seek “a peaceful resolution through political means.”

Ethiopia and Eritrea ended a two year border war in 2000 after talks in Algiers, where the two sides agreed to resolve border disputes through international arbitration.