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Published 29th May 1998

Vol 39 No 11


Murder in the family

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The Ethiopian/Eritrean border conflict helps the Sudan government and undermines Washington's vision of a New Africa

The fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which initially caused between six and 20 deaths, took everyone by surprise, not least the United States, a close ally of both countries. Only two weeks earlier, Eritrean Defence Minister Sebhat Efrem and presidential security chief Abreha Kassa were in Addis Ababa socialising with their opposite numbers. Then a minor and probably unplanned skirmish on 6 May escalated into battle by 12 May, when Eritrean armoured units clashed with Ethiopian paratroops near Badme in the ‘Yirga Triangle’. By 19 May, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin was warning of the danger of full-scale conflict if Eritrea did not unconditionally withdraw. Africa Confidential understands that Ethiopia had originally scheduled a full-scale response for 20 May. Though it quietly delayed operations for a week and possibly longer, there were fears that both sides had deployed so massively that war might break out anyway. This is essentially a family quarrel - but most murders happen in the family.

Private armies, public relations

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Awkward questions are being asked about private security companies' growing power

Underlying the political storm in London about the ‘Arms to Sierra Leone’ affair (AC Vol 39 No 10) is a central question about the privatisation of British foreign poli...

Buckingham's gate

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Less well known but critical to Buckingham's African empire are his extensive interests in Namibia, where he's had close connections with influential politicians since the early 19...

The euro cometh

No one knows exactly how hard the new European currency will hit the Franc Zone

Is France finally decolonising its African partners? Or is Paris still trying to have it both ways? These questions dominated the Third Convention Euro-Africaine in Bordeaux, Franc...

Hugging the opposition

Moi has always shunned coalitions but he's building one now the chips are down

"I am not a dictator. I just say what is good. I say things direct. I do not have money overseas. If I am to sink, I will sink in Kenya" President Daniel arap Moi, who rarely talks...

Laughter in adversity

President Moi's Kenya now has a lousy reputation in Washington DC. At a White House press briefing before President Clinton's Africa visit last March, an American journalist asked ...


Seeking spies

A year before 1999's general elections, the spectre of some senior African National Congress officials being publicly named as having spied for the National Party regime haunts the...

Murder again

Seth Sendashonga was shot dead on 16 May while leaving a United Nations building in Nairobi. His family says the Kigali government organised his killing. Kenyan police, however, pi...

Pain in the neck

The Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been a pain in the government's neck for the past six months.Two fresh victories should boost...

Intel tale

What ever did military intelligence officials talk about at a four-day international conference in London last week? They certainly discussed West Africa (including Sierra Leone), ...