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(Reuters via USnews ) Djibouti Asks AU to Deploy Observers Along Its Disputed Border With Eritrea

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Monday, 03 July 2017

Djibouti Asks AU to Deploy Observers Along Its Disputed Border With Eritrea

July 3, 2017, at 9:28 a.m.

Djibouti Asks AU to Deploy Observers Along Its Disputed Border With Eritrea

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Djibouti has asked the African Union to deploy
observers along its disputed border with Eritrea after Qatar withdrew
its peace-keeping troops two weeks ago, the Djibouti foreign minister
said on Monday.

The Qataris were sent to the region after clashes broke out between
Eritrea and Djibouti in 2008, but they were pulled out without warning
on June 14.

Qatar gave no reason for the withdrawal, but it came days after both
Djibouti and Eritrea sided with Gulf Arab nations that had broken off
relations with Qatar.

"The Qatari forces left on short notice without really preparing the
ground. Leaving the status quo was not in the best interest of both
countries," Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told
Reuters during a summit of African Union leaders in the Ethiopian
capital, Addis Ababa.

"We proposed to the African Union that it take over the disputed side
and fill the gap. We need the African Union to act very quickly,"
Youssouf said.

A dozen Djiboutian troops were killed and dozens wounded in the 2008
clashes with Eritrea. The fighting erupted after Djibouti accused
Eritrea of sending troops across the border.

Amid fears the conflict would escalate and spread, the U.N. Security
Council requested that both sides withdraw. Qatari volunteered to
mediate the dispute and deploy observers.

After Qatar pulled its troops out of the region, Djibouti accused
Eritrea of occupying the disputed Dumeira area along their border.

"In the beginning, there were a limited number of Eritrean troops in
the disputed areas. But then they pulled back," Youssouf said.

The African Union has called on both sides to exercise restraint and
said it would deploy a fact-finding mission to the disputed area.
Diplomats said Eritrea has not yet responded to that request.

Youssouf said a potential African Union deployment could involve
conflict-prevention experts or members of a regional "standby force"
the union is setting up.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho, editing by Larry King)
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