Horn of Africa: Tough Terms for a Divorce

Ethiopia's new rulers promise Eritrea the right to secede, but on the ground, the pledge is illusory and the reality is far more complex

The requisite niceties aside, it was not the friendliest audience that Issaias Afewerki faced as he addressed his partners in Ethiopia's new power elite last week. Many of the others oppose his plan for Eritrean independence, preferring to keep the coastal province firmly within Ethiopia. Issaias had a message for them. "Forget history," he told the conference in Addis Ababa. "Men make history, and we have made an independent Eritrea."

For the moment, his fellow leaders were willing to go along. Under a charter adopted by the 81 delegates representing 24 different groups, the Eritreans, as well as any of Ethiopia's...

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