The small port of Djibouti in the territory of the Afars and Issas plays an important part in Ethiopia's connections with the outside world.
The small port of Djibouti in the territory of the Afars and Issas plays an important part in Ethiopia's connections with the outside world. Many of Ethiopia's vital supplies travel along a rail line between the two countries. But three weeks ago, saboteurs blew up two bridges along the line and another three have since been damaged.
SYNOPSIS: Repair work has begun but trains for Ethiopia still sit idle in Djibouti. The damaged bridges lie in Ethiopian territory near the town of Dire Dawa. The government in Addis Ababa have claimed the sabotage is the work of Somali-backed guerrilla forces. Relations between the two countries have been strained over rival claims to Djibouti. French military experts in Djibouti have said the small number of Ethiopian forces in the Dire Dawa region explains the success of the guerrillas. The bulk of the Ethiopian army is involved in operations against separatists in Eritrea.
Afars and Issas is to get its independence from France on the 27th of June. Ethiopia is in the process of negotiating a new treaty on the use of the railway line. The original treaty -- signed in 1959 -- gave Ethiopia free access to the port of Djibouti, exemption from customs duties and the right to have military material in transit there.