From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Thu May 28 2009 - 05:19:58 EDT
Africa Union Stands By Recommendation For Eritrea Sanctions
By Peter Clottey
28 May 2009
The Africa Union (AU) says it stands by its recommendation to the United
Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea despite Asamara's
The AU said public pronouncement by Sheik Dahir Aweys, a Somali opposition
leader that his insurgent group receives help from Eritrea supports its
suspicion of Asamara.
Somalia has often accused neighboring Eritrea of supporting hard line
insurgent groups including al-Shabab who aim to overthrow the new Somali
administration. But Asamara denies the charges describing the Africa Unions
recommendation as irresponsible and illegal.
Ambassador Nichola Bwakira is AU's special envoy to Somalia. He told VOA
that the continental body is right to recommend sanctions to be imposed on
"Article 23 of the AU charter foresees and stipulates that AU can impose
sanctions on a member state on specific issues. And in this case the AU
Peace And Security decided to request sanctions against Eritrea because of
the role it is playing in the conflict presently in Mogadishu," Bwakira
He said the Africa Union was aware of Eritrea's role in supporting Somali
Islamic insurgents who have been waging war against the new administration.
"To substantiate all these, I will like to mention that Sheikh Aweys has
publicly stated that he is receiving assistance from the state of Eritrea.
So, the position of the AU is based on those facts," he said.
Bwakira said there was no need to present empirical proof to challenge
Asamara's denial of involvement in supporting Somali insurgents.
"There is no need to ascertain the fact of the matter because the
beneficiary of the assistance has said it publicly…do you need more proof
than that? Public admission," Bwakira said.
He said there confirmed reports of Asamara's support to the insurgents.
"We had information about training and funding that it had never been stated
by the beneficiary before. But now it has been publicly stated by Sheikh
Aweys," he said.
Last week, the Africa Union recommended to the United Nations Security
Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea after accusing Asamara of supporting
hard line Somali insurgents who are fighting the government.
This prompted Asmara to recall its ambassador to the AU's headquarters in
Addis Ababa a move which is could turn acidic the diplomatic relations
between Eritrea and the continental body.
Bwakira said the continental body will keep its doors open despite Asamara's
recall of its ambassador to the Africa Union.
"I think the Africa Union remains open to hold discussions. If Eritrea wants
to contest that by all means they would be able to take all the steps to
deny and prove its innocence," Bwakira said.
He said would prefer to repose confidence in Asamara not having a hand in
the Somali ongoing violent clashes, but the evidence could not be avoided.
"We would be happy if Eritrea was not supporting the insurgency in Somalia,"
Bwakira gave high marks for Somalia's new administration who he said has
surmounted difficult challenges posed by opposition forces.
"I think the government has been performing very well under difficult
circumstances," Bwakira said.
Mogadishu accuses neighboring Eritrea of supporting Islamist militants with
planeloads of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other
weapons to fuel fighting there.
But Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki has sharply denied the allegation,
saying United States agents were spreading lies to tarnish the reputation of
Hard line Somali Islamic Insurgents including al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam are
fighting President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government with the aim of
taking over the country.
Al-Shabab has described the new Somali administration as a creation of the
west to control the natural resources of the country.
Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al
Qaeda, al-Shabab has refused to recognize the new Somali administration
vowing to violently take over the country and impose the strict form the of
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 after former
President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in a coup d'état which led to a
deterioration of security in the capital, Mogadishu and the entire country.
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