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Bolton Reveals Frazer Worked to Reopen Eritrea/Ethiopia Boundary Decision in Favor of Ethiopia

Press Release

November 10, 2007

Bolton Reveals Frazer Worked to Reopen Eritrea/Ethiopia Boundary Decision in Favor of Ethiopia

Former senior Bush Administration official John Bolton has publicly and unambiguously revealed that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer sought to prevent demarcation of the Eritrean/Ethiopian border according to the final and binding 2002 Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) decision.

In his recently published memoir – “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Threshold Editions) – former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bolton states that in February 2006, Frazer informed him that she wanted him to “reopen” the 2002 EEBC decision, “which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia” (Page 347). Bolton describes his surprise at Frazer’s position, because in January 2006, he had gotten the Security Council to agree to a Frazer-led “U.S. initiative” on the border issue on the basis that this initiative would be solely focused on rapid implementation of the EEBC decision.

Bolton also describes in detail what he believes was the singular focus of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Annan’s deputy Mark Malloch Brown (now the UK’s Minister for Africa and Asia) and many Security Council members on punishing Eritrea for its restrictions on the UN peacekeeping force known as UNMEE and the lack of focus on the main issue: Ethiopia’s obstruction of demarcation. Bolton notes that UNMEE “was simply propping up Ethiopia’s flat violation of its commitments” (page 344). Moreover, Bolton believes “Eritrea had a point: Ethiopia had agreed on a mechanism to resolve the border dispute in 2000 and was now welching on the deal” (Page 344).

Bolton’s revelation about Frazer, the lead U.S. official for African affairs, provides a useful insight into the likely motivations of her recent hostile statements towards Eritrea, coddling of the Ethiopian government and equivocal rhetoric about demarcation.

When Frazer tells the Voice of America on November 6, 2007 that “demarcation [between Ethiopia and Eritrea] should definitely be done, but it needs to be done in the context of dialogue”, it is now clear what Frazer hopes to accomplish through such “dialogue”. Frazer misleadingly states in the same interview that Ethiopia has accepted the EEBC decision “without condition”, while the truth, as noted in a September 28, 2007 letter by the President of the EEBC to the UN Secretary General, is that “even if all of Ethiopia’s conditions were met by Eritrea, Ethiopia would not commit itself to anything more than discussion on demarcation.” It is not, therefore, surprising that the State Department issued a press release on November 9, 2007 about a “boundary impasse” between Ethiopia and Eritrea that failed to even mention the EEBC and instead focused on unspecified “efforts” by the current UN Secretary General to “resolve” the situation.

It is with all of this background that one must also consider a November 6, 2007 Washington Post article in which an anonymous “U.S. government source” speculated about future Ethiopian air strikes on the capital of Eritrea in order to topple the Eritrean government and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa’s November 1, 2007 warning to American citizens in Ethiopia to stay at least 30-60 miles away from the border with Eritrea.

Organization of Eritrean Americans, 600 L Street NW Washington, D.C. 20001