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Eritrea

Yearbook 2000

Eritrea. After almost a year of relative silence in the border war, more than 100,000 Ethiopian soldiers moved deep into Eritrea in May. The Eritrean army was forced to panic retreat, and up to one million civilians fled. The strategically important city of Barentu, west of the capital Asmara, was evacuated. After two weeks of fighting, Eritrea agreed to withdraw from all areas occupied since the war broke out in May 1998. Eritrea, in return, accused Ethiopia of occupying territories that "undisputably" belong to Eritrea.

2000 Eritrea

Following the mediation of the African cooperation organization OAU, a cease-fire agreement was signed in Algiers on June 18. As a result of the agreement, the UN Security Council approved in September that a peacekeeping force of 4,200 be stationed along the 100-mile border during late autumn, mainly in a 24-km buffer zone on the Eritrean side, to monitor the Ethiopian retreat. However, continued peace talks went slow, and there was widespread concern that the fighting would re-flame.

Aid organizations reported in the fall that the civilians driven away by the fighting in May were living in difficult conditions among the mountains. Major material destruction in the areas occupied by the Ethiopian troops and extensive minors will make life difficult even when the refugees can return.

According to COUNTRYAAH, the loss of the war propelled some self-examination both within the Eritrean leadership and among the public, where demands for democratization and increased transparency in the state's affairs began to be heard. Parliament decided in October that the country's first general elections should be held in December 2001. Before that, a commission will establish rules for a new multi-party system.

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