In Ethiopia, the armed forced have ended a two-day general assembly dy declaring their determination to crush any armed rebellions in the country, according to Addis Ababa Radio.
In Ethiopia, the armed forced have ended a two-day general assembly dy declaring their determination to crush any armed rebellions in the country, according to Addis Ababa Radio. The assembly were held on Thursday and Friday (14 June and 15) with its chairman the head of state, colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the chairman of the ruling provisional Military Administrative Council. The declarations of intent notably concerned the rebellions in Eritrea and the Ogaden. In Keren, the second largest city of secessionist Eritrea, rebuilding continues apace, and life is returning to normal. Eight months ago, the city fell to well-equipped government troops, and the rebels had to seek refuge to continue their seventeen-year-old from remote mountains and villages.
SYNOPSIS: Keren has not known the clamour and turmoil of fighting since last November, when Ethiopian troops broke through the rebel lines and captured the city. The Moslem faith is strong is this region, and the call to prayer are an integral part of everyday life. With the work of clearing debris from war-scarred streets almost done, worshippers go quietly to the mosques to pray.
Government troops, who took a heavy toll of rebels, are now in firm control. Not all signs of the battles have vanished. Some buildings were so badly damaged, it will be a long time before they can be restored.
Keren had been regarded as the 'impregnable fortress' and the grave of hundreds of British soldiers at nearby war graves bear testimony to this claim. The British died trying to oust Mussolini's army from this same district in 1936. With Soviet arms and Cuban advisers, Colonel Mengistu claims to have achieved with relative ease what it took the British fifty days to do.
Ethiopian forces have claimed that, when the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (FPLF) fled from Keren, they burnt down and blew up all within their reach.
Ethiopia wants to maintain Eritrea mainly for strategic reasons -- it contains the major Red Sea outlets, and accounts for a third of Ethiopia's manufacturing industry.
Industry is getting slowly back to normal, strengthening the war effort. But the EPLF is reportedly working on industry of its own.
In northern and central areas of Eritrea, still controlled by EPLF rebels, there has been large-scale land reform the village committees established to organise the distribute their produce. In the mountains, the rebels do not have bales of wool like these, or factories to work with, so they've concentrated heavily on social and economic reform. A system of people's shops guarantees that scare goods reach the peasants who have the least to sustain them. There has also been a widespread literacy campaign, and advances in health reform. It is a massive make-shift efforts under the noses of strong enemy.
In Keren, many of the victorious Ethiopian soldiers have exchanged their rifles for shovels to rebuild roads, clearing the way for market places.
But a return to arms may be imminent with a recent decision by the two major rebel groups to pool their resources in a united front against Colonel Mengistu, and the armed forces declaration to crush armed rebellions.