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Zenawi denies displacement of Ethiopian farmers from border with Sudan

May 21, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Prime Minister denied reports speaking about displacement of Ethiopian framers from the border area with Sudan because their lands were given to Khartoum.

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Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi, speaking before the federal parliament in Addis Ababa, said that "allegation that a number of Ethiopians were displaced as a result of acquisition of a portion of Ethiopian land to Sudan as groundless." He also added that no Ethiopian was displaced as result of border demarcation with Sudan.

Ethiopian opposition groups in exile denounced the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party for ceding lands from "River Atbara to Fazra area in Quara" to Sudan. The Ethiopian opposition People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) which, raised the issue of land concession since last December, said recently that Sudanese soldiers imprisoned 30 farmers and confiscated their lands.

Zenawi recalled efforts made by the past successive governments since Minelek the II. He said the border between the two countries have drawn in the era of Minelek the II, the founder of the Ethiopian modern state more than a hundred years ago when Sudan was under British colonialism.

He added that after the independence of Sudan, the demarcation of Minelek was considered as basis of the delimitation in the era of Haile Selassie, as well as Mengistu Haile Mariam.

However as the latter had no time to complete what he began, it has been agreed to build on what has been agreed upon during the government of Haile Selassie.

He said according to this, the Ethiopian government accepts the Gwynn Border Line and added that an agreement has also been reached to establish a joint committee with a primary objective of avoiding damage as a result of the practicability of the Gwynn Border Line.

He indicated that an agreement has been reached between the Ethiopian and Sudanese governments not only to demarcate the boundary from Daglash to Tekeze but also to re-demarcate that of the boarder who beneath it.

A joint committee, which has already been set up, has already launched its activities, Meles said. He further said the official demarcation will begin soon.

(ST)