DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     December 23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 244

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        ADDIS ABABA (CWNews.com/Fides) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican envoy to Ethiopia and Eritrea, in a Christmas message on Tuesday, called for peace to descend on the two countries which have waged a long war.

        "I pray that good sense will prevail and that peace will be re-established since it is the only way to guarantee the development of these two countries which have already suffered so much," said Archbishop Tomasi.

        The long border war has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. "At all costs, there must be no ulterior destabilization in the Horn of Africa region," he said. "This would be deleterious for the outset of the new millennium. It is logical to think that if the fighting continues the consequences will be tragic; but in this conflict logic counts for little or nothing."

        The conflict, which began as a fight over boundaries, can be explained, the archbishop said, on the one hand by a justified demand for national autonomy and identity on the part of Eritrea and on the other Ethiopia's desire to maintain its traditional and historical leadership in the Horn of Africa.

        Recently, fighting has become more intense while peace mediation, which Algeria presides over for the Organization for the Unity of Africa (OUA), is extremely slow. The OUA proposes a plan which includes the withdrawal of troops from the contested zone. The plan was opposed by Eritrea at first and now Ethiopia refuses to agree. Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki said recently during a visit to Rome that the plan must be accepted unconditionally by both sides.

        However, according to sources in Addis Ababa, "they are moving towards a military solution," at least after Coptic-Orthodox Christmas on January 7 or the feast of the Epiphany on January 15. Most Christians in the two countries belong to the Coptic Christian Orthodox Church.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 244


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