The Eritrean ambassador to the African Union (AU) said on Tuesday that Qatar should continue its role of mediator in the territorial dispute between its country and Djibouti.
“For the time being, as far as Djibouti is concerned, Qatar remains the mediator,” Eritrean ambassador Araia Desta told AFP on the last day of an AU summit in Addis Ababa.
In June 2010, Qatar had signed an agreement between Eritrea and Djibouti to resolve their territorial conflict by negotiated agreement. Qatari soldiers had been deployed in the disputed areas pending a final agreement between Djibouti and Asmara.
The relations between the two countries had strained after an incursion in April 2008 of Eritrean troops to Ras Doumeira, a strategic promontory overlooking the entrance of the Red Sea north of Djibouti city. The two countries opposed twice in 1996 and 1999 for this area.
For the time being, in the case of Djibouti, Qatar remains the mediator.
But Qatar announced on 14 June that it had withdrawn its troops deployed in that region. Djibouti said it had noticed on the same day that Eritrea had taken advantage of this withdrawal to occupy this area, before retiring again the next day.
Djibouti said it favored “diplomatic solutions” to resolve the dispute, but did not exclude the use of “military solutions”, which caused international concern.
Djibouti on Monday urged the AU to support its efforts to negotiate a settlement of this territorial dispute through a “demarcation of the border” with Eritrea.
AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on Tuesday called on both parties to “calm and restrain” and announced that he would send the Peace and Security Commissioner of the organization to Eritrea.
Djibouti has already opened its territory to an AU fact-finding mission, but Eritrea has refused to do the same, Faki said.
The withdrawal from Qatar followed the crisis that broke out between the small Gulf Emirate and Saudi Arabia and its allies who accused it of supporting Islamist “terrorism”.
Djibouti and Eritrea have good relations with Saudi Arabia and its allies in the United Arab Emirates, and both sides have taken sides in this conflict.
Xaruunta Dhexe ee Shabakadda Axadle Group
Axadle International Monitoring – Africa