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After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Eritrea became part of Mussolini's East African Empire. Six years later, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia while Eritrea came under British rule after the surrender of the Italian occupiers.

In 1950, a UN resolution was passed by which autonomous Eritrea formed a federation with Ethiopia under Ethiopian administration, but with great autonomous power. A new Constitution came into force in 1952 after which Eritrea got a government with jurisdiction over most domestic matters. Monetary, fiscal, military and foreign affairs were under Ethiopian control. Emperor Haile Selassie restricted Eritrean autonomy further and further. In 1961, the pluralistic Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) was established, initially as a political movement against Ethiopian rule. In 1962 Ethiopia annexed Eritrea. This prompted the ELF to start an armed struggle. When in the early 1970s splinter groups of the ELF united in the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), the violence against the Ethiopian rulers took the form of a civil war.

In 1974, Haile Selassie's regime was overthrown by Mengistu Haile Mariam, who also installed an oppressive regime. An armed struggle against this began in the Ethiopian province of Tigray, and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) was formed. During the civil war, the EPLF gave support to the TPLF. In 1991, the Ethiopian military regime of Mengistu fell. Shortly afterwards Meles Zenawi came to power in Ethiopia. According to an agreement between him and Isaias Afewerki, the end of Ethiopian rule for Eritrea then came. Eritrea officially became independent by referendum on 24 May 1993, after a thirty-year struggle for freedom.

After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Eritrea became part of the European Union. During the first weeks of this conflict, bombings took place on both sides. Despite mediation efforts by the OAU (now African Union, AU), the United States and Rwanda, heavy ground fighting broke out in early 1999. In mid-1999, the conflict reached a stalemate and both sides resumed negotiations under the leadership of the OAU. However, these failed. On 12 May 2000, Ethiopia launched another large-scale military offensive, which resulted in considerable land gains. It is estimated that the war cost 100,000 lives. Following mediation by the OAU in close cooperation with the United States, both countries signed a ceasefire agreement on 18 June 2000. On 12 December 2000, both sides signed a peace agreement in Algiers. A Border Commission, established as a result of the peace agreement, ruled on 13 April 2002. Both countries signed the peace agreement stating that the Boundary Commission's ruling would be 'final and binding'. Since then, the peace process between the two countries has been at an impasse. On 19 September 2003, Ethiopia wrote to SGVN Kofi Annan stating that it could not accept 15% of the Boundary Commission's ruling. In November 2004, Ethiopia declared that it would no longer oppose the Boundary Commission's decision, and as far as Ethiopia was concerned, the demarcation process could begin. In the months that followed, however, it became clear that Ethiopia insists on dialogue with Eritrea on adjustments to the implementation of the border decision as a condition for demarcation. Eritrea insists on full implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision without preconditions. Once again, the countries are at an impasse.

In the period 2005 to 2008, tensions continued between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In June 2008 fighting broke out between Eritrea and Djibouti. In April 2009, the UN reprimands Eritrea for still having troops in the disputed area, Eritrea denies this. In August 2009, Eritrea and Ethiopia are ordered to pay compensation to each other as a result of the border war. In May 2010 fighting with rebels broke out. In April 2011, Ethiopia pledged support to rebels seeking to depose President Isaias Afewerki. In 2012 and 2013, unrest continues. In December 2013, an EU report states that more than 30,000 people have been abducted and tortured since 2013. In the years 2014 to 2016, the human rights situation in Eritrea remains under pressure and Eritrea leads lists of least free countries. President Isaias Afewerki has been in power since 1993. In June 2017, there are tensions with Djibouti over disputed border territory. Asmara is added to the Unbesco World Heritage list in July 2017. In July 2018, Eritrea and Ethiopia declare that the war is over and the UN ends sanctions.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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