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Monday, November 20, 2006

Ethiopia expels officers from army, navy

November 20, 2006 (AP) - Air force Major General Almeshet Degfe and army Brigadier Generals Kumera Assefa and Asamenew Tsgie were banned from the military last week, said Dawit Assefa, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense. He gave no further details. "Banned means the three officers have been expelled or kicked out," Assefa said. In recent months, several senior officers have defected to arch-rival Eritrea or joined rebel groups like the Oromo Liberation Front, which has been fighting for greater autonomy in southern Ethiopia. In early August, an Ethiopian army officer of Oromo descent, Brigadier General Kemal Geltu, defected to Eritrea with more than 100 Ethiopian troops under his command. He said he was unhappy with the Ethiopian government's treatment of the Oromo, who make up a third of Ethiopia's 75 million people. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but their border was never settled. They fought a two-year war that ended in December 2000 when both countries signed a peace deal, allowing an independent commission to determine their border. Ethiopia refused to implement the international commission's 2002 ruling. Eritrea has accused the international community of shirking its responsibility to ensure the ruling is obeyed. The border, while still not demarcated, has been mostly peaceful since the 2000 truce. Both countries have tens of thousands of troops dug in on each side of the 1 000km frontier. A 25km wide buffer zone that separates the two armies is patrolled by UN peacekeepers. - Sapa-AP

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Map of oromia

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