Ethiopia Plans to Increase Support to Eritrean Rebel Groups, Ministry Says

April 16, 2011

The two countries fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people, according to Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Relations between the two countries have remained tense as each backed opposing factions in nearby Somalia’s civil war. Skirmishes between Ethiopian and Eritrean troops occasionally break out along their 912-kilometer (567-mile) border.

Ethiopia has previously accused Eritrea of supporting Ethiopian rebels and of attempting to disrupt last year’s parliamentary elections. Three calls made to Eritrea’s Ministry of Information after business hours were not answered.

“In light of Eritrea’s continuing nefarious campaigns, Ethiopia will continue to work to force the regime to change its policies,” the statement said. “Failing that it will be prepared to change the government itself through any means at its disposal.”

Afewerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi led allied rebel groups that overthrew Ethiopia’s Communist Derg regime in 1991. Eritrea, formerly an Ethiopian province, won independence after a 1993 referendum.