Fabrication: A Trademark of the Ethiopian
Ghidewon Abay Asmerom
October 30, 2003
The contents of the letters (Meles' September 19 and
Seyoum's October 16), or Meles' interview, with IRIN, except
for the insult they heap on the Boundary Commission, are not new. They are
a rehash of the very same lies Seyoum told a Press conference in May 2003.
The May Press Conference was in response to the Commission's March
21st Observations. Seyoum was then telling the same lies and using the very
same maps as he did two weeks ago with his letter to Kofi Annan.
Meles' in his interview with IRIN says:
"They [Boundary Commission] made their decision on the basis of the established practice of the parties. If they had followed the colonial treaty, Badme would have been say 40, 50, 60 km within the Ethiopian boundary"
To the contrary, if the Commission had made its Decision on
the letter of the 1902 Treaty, let alone Badme even Sheraro would have been
part of Eritrea. The Prime Minister needs no reminding of the fact that Sheraro
is in the middle of Kunama land. He also knows well that two members in his
parliament are there representing the Kunama: Kidane Meko representing Kunama
in the House of the Federation and Haile Gebremariam representing the Kunama
Special Wereda in the House of Peoples' Representatives. Those interested
can see the list at http://www.ethiopar.net/English. The Commission had made
it clear in its Decision that delimiting the border so as to leave the Kunama
in Eritrea was and still is the particular purpose and object of the 1902
Treaty. Thus what Meles told IRIN is a repetition of the same lie he tried
to tell the Security Council in September 19, 2003. He had said then:
"The Colonial treaties which are the basis of the Algiers Agreement and which should have been the key basis for the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary leave Badme inside Ethiopia."
The Commission had already, through its letter of October
7, told the UN Security Council that Meles was telling a lie; of course in
a more diplomatic language than mine. Here is how the Commission put it:
"On the basis of those colonial treaties as they were interpreted by the Commission in accordance with applicable international law that [Meles' above statement] is not accurate. The Commission found that on the correct interpretation of the relevant Treaty, the boundary from the point at which it leaves the Setit River (Point 6) to where it joins the Mareb River (Point 9), ran in part across the Badme plain. If as a result Badme village is found to be located in Eritrea, that is no more than the consequence of the Commission's application of the relevant colonial treaty."
This very same letter of the Commission also shows that Seyoum
too was not telling the truth when he told Kofi Annan in his letter of October
"The April 2002 Decision repeatedly states that the boundary described in the 1902 Treaty leaves the Setit River at its junction with the Sittona River, a location the Commission identified as point 4, and not as point 6, as the 7 October letter claims. "
More is coming on this particular quote of Seyoum on my follow
up piece "From Mai Tenne to Mai Teb and from Tomsa to Sittona:
Ethiopia's innumerable inconsistencies".
Ethiopia has no facts to challenge the Commission on the April
2002 Decision, legal or otherwise. It had failed miserably to convince the
Commission of its case in the Western as well as the Central Sectors. This
is precisely why it has now opted to defame and declare war on the Eritrea-Ethiopia
Boundary Commission (EEBC).
I don't think we can emphasize enough if we remind
the world that two of these Commissioners are Ethiopia's own nominees:
Prince Bola Adesumbo Ajibola and Sir Arthur Watts. It had also
an indirect hand in choosing the third: the President of the Commission, Professor
Sir Elihu Lauterpacht). Not only these three, since it had objected to
one of Eritrea's two nominees, Mr. Jan Paulsson, who chose to
resign, though the other members of the Commission didn't find merit
in Ethiopia's objections, one can say Ethiopia had also an indirect
role in selecting the fourth member of the Commission, Professor W. Michael
Reisman. So here we have it; the Commission is composed of four out five
members that are directly or indirectly chosen by Ethiopia. Does it then make
sense to blame a Commission of becoming "both plaintiffs and judges"
when you had a hand in choosing 80% of its members? It doesn't. Are
you puzzled? If you do, then welcome to the world of the current Ethiopian
Regime. Nothing it does or says has or makes sense.
Forgetting his own inconsistencies and contradictions, Ethiopia's
Foreign Minister had tried to dismiss the Commission's October 7 letter
as "inconsistent and contradictory". And as if there was consistency
in his Prime Minister's letter of September 19, the Foreign Minister
tells the UN "we stand behind everything said in our Prime Minister's
letter." One only has to read the Commission letter to the UN from
October 7 to see that legally and logically what Ethiopia's Prime Minister
wrote makes no sense at all. It is full of misrepresentations, contradictions
and inconsistencies. It is because the Commission has exposed it that Ethiopia
is complaining that the Commission is "ridiculing" it and siding
with Eritrea. The fact is Ethiopia is to blame. It had invited the Commission's
Ethiopia's blind logic sees no reason why the Commission
should write a letter in response to what Meles wrote to the Security Council.
In other words, it wants the Commission to keep quite while its Prime Minister
and Foreign Minister tell lies left, right and center. The kernel of their
letters of course is to accuse the Commission of passing an "illegal,
unjust and irresponsible" verdict to misinterpret the Commission's
own Decision. Isn't it commonsense then for the Commission to defend
itself? Doesn't the Commission have the right to comment on Ethiopia's
allegations and fabrications on the way the Commission is conducting its work?
Shouldn't the Commission reply when Ethiopia lies about the Commission's
own Decision and tries to misrepresent its April 13 Decision? Only a Woyane
would think otherwise.
If Ethiopia had thought dealing with this Commission was going
to be like the dealings it is used to in the halls of the OAU, then it is
mistaken. After all, this is not a Commission based in Addis. It is an Independent
Commission in the true sense. We are talking here of a Commission of international
jurists. Whether the Parties like it or not everything they say is going to
be examined and dissected under the legal microscope. If Ethiopia doesn't
like to get a response from the Commission, then it should stop telling lies.
Better yet, it should abide by the letter and spirit of the Algiers Agreement
that it signed and promised to uphold. Yes it is as simple as that. However,
as long as it fails to do neither the Commission has no choice but to put
Ethiopia's lies in the light so that the international community can
see for itself.
Ethiopia's most recent rage over the Commission, however,
is not only over the Commission's letter from October. It is a cumulative
rage. The Commission has been exposing Ethiopia's fabrications from
the very beginning. Check the Commission's Decision in response to
Ethiopia's request for Correction, Clarification and Consultation (June
24, 2002), the Commission 8th Report to the UN Security Council (February
2003), and the Commission's Observations (March 2003) and you can easily
see how the EEBC have been enumerating Ethiopia's inconsistencies and
One fat lie Ethiopia is telling is that it is committed to
the Algiers Agreement. It is clear that Ethiopia cannot claim it stands by
the Algiers Agreement while declaring as "null and void" a Decision
that is "final and binding" by the Algiers Agreement. This is
precisely what the dictionary meaning of a contradiction is: "a proposition,
statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of
something; a statement or phrase whose parts contradict each other".
So it is not the Commission that is inconsistent but Ethiopia. Ethiopia's
stand has been inconsistent and contradictory from the very beginning. The
Commission had fingered this long ago. Long before it went public with its
8th Report to the UN Security Council. Ethiopia's real anger thus is
the fact the Commission exposed its pretense in public. That is why Seyoum
"...This in fact is becoming a habit for the Commission. Your Excellency would recall how in its Eighth report the Commission singling out one of the parties to the dispute had attacked Ethiopia, imputing motives to it for which there is absolutely no justification. By no means can the following attack by the Commission on Ethiopia be taken as a legal opinion:
'Notwithstanding the clarity with which the Commission has stated the limits upon its authority, Ethiopia has continued to seek variations to the boundary line delimited in the April Decision, and has done so in terms that appear, despite protestations to the contrary, to undermine not only the April Decision but also the peace process as a whole. ' [P., 11]"
Ethiopia had long ago told the UN Secretary General and his
Special Representative Legwaila Joseph Legwaila in private that it won't
accept the Decision unless the Decision is reversed to give Badme to Ethiopia.
The two were not willing to go public with Ethiopia's contradictions
until the Commission went public with Ethiopia's rejection. Joseph
Legwaila in particular is still in denial. He doesn't seem to have
the courage to call a spade a spade. Unlike these two UN Representatives the
Commission had to go public to tell the world that Ethiopia is frustrating
its demarcation efforts. This is the reason it is being attacked by Ethiopia.
In short it is being attacked for telling it like it is. For the first time
in the history of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict that goes back to the late
1940s, an international body has finally unmasked Ethiopia so that the world
could see the lie behind its facade. Yes, Ethiopia had always been wearing
a mask. A mask that helped it cover its face of lies and deceptions. Now that
the mask is off the world can see for itself whether Ethiopia stands for a
real peace or not. It surely cannot claim it is standing for the peace process
while it has done all it can to derail it. As the Commission warned Ethiopia
has irreversibly undermined "not only the April Decision but also
the peace process as a whole". Meles' latest threat of war
is a proof of what the Commission saw coming as early as February. Here is
Meles' ominous desire for yet another war:
"As you know there is an Ethiopian army there [in Badme]. The only way it [taking possession] can be done is by removing the Ethiopian army and the Ethiopian administration. And if dialogue is ruled out, the only way of doing that is by force of arms and if they do so they will have decided to initiate a conflict. It did not work last time around and it will not work this time."
Meles and his Government might lie as much as they can but
one thing is clear they cannot hide the fact that they do not stand for peace.
They never did and they never will. Telling lies is part of their make, but
not making peace.