The seemingly war-cursed Horn of Africa is at it again as Eritrea desperately taunts Djibouti over border lines. But France and the United States have moved to settle the dispute, which led to a violent clash leaving several people dead in June last year.
The border area dispute has assumed a greater strategic significance due to the presence of both French and US bases, with the US alone stationing more than 1,200 troops, in Djibouti.
Wednesday, The UN Security Council gave Eritrea a firm five-week ultimatum to pull out its forces from the disputed border region with Djibouti, in a French-drafted resolution. Eritrea was also asked to remove its military equipment from the Ras Doumeira region and the island of Doumeira.
Commending Djibouti’s withdrawal and condemning Eritrea’s dogged stance, the draft urged the Eritrean government to adopt a more conciliatory approach in the settlement of the dispute. It pleaded with Asmara to “engage in dialogue to defuse the tension and engage also in diplomatic efforts leading to a mutually acceptable settlement of the border issue.”
The resolution is to be complied with “immediately”.
Three months ago, the US warned Eritrea that it faces appropriate action from the UN if it refused to co-operate to resolve its border dispute with Djibouti peacefully.
Before the clashes over the Ras Doumeira promontory on the shores of the Red Sea, in June last year, Eritrea and Djibouti had been involved in bitter confrontations in 1996 and 1999.
Djibouti had pulled out its forces from the disputed areas, as requested by the UN Security Council last June while Eritrea has refused to do so and they currently face stern action from the US or the UN.