From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 15:15:34 EST
Eritrea warns UN not to pass "ludicrous" sanctions
Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:26pm GMT
* Eritrean envoy warns of Ethiopian "military adventures"
* Asmara doesn't aid Somalia rebels - UN envoy
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Eritrea has warned the U.N. Security
Council that a draft sanctions resolution would impose "ludicrous punitive
measures" on Asmara for aiding Somali rebels and might further destabilize
the Horn of Africa.
"Eritrea urges all members of the U.N. Security Council to use their
influence to ensure the rejection of this draft resolution in its entirety,"
Eritrea's U.N. ambassador, Araya Desta, said in a letter to the 15-nation
"This measure risks engulfing the region into another cycle of conflict as
it may encourage Ethiopia to contemplate reckless military adventures," he
said in the letter, dated Dec. 15 and obtained by Reuters on Friday.
The United States and other council members accuse Asmara of supplying
Islamist al Shabaab rebels with funds and arms as they fight to topple a
fragile U.N.-backed transitional government in Somalia, a virtually lawless
Horn of Africa nation.
Eritrea's regional rival Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 with tacit U.S.
backing to rout an Islamic courts movement from Mogadishu. It withdrew its
troops earlier this year and denies accusations by Somalia's rebels that
they have returned. Addis Ababa backs Somalia's transitional government.
Uganda is credited with drafting the sanctions resolution, which would
impose an arms embargo and asset freezes and travel bans on designated
Eritrean individuals and firms. But Desta said in his letter that Washington
was its true author.
"In reality, the main architect of this resolution and the single country
which has been campaigning frantically in the corridors of the U.N. premises
in New York ... for its adoption is the United States," he said.
ERITREA WANTS NEW AU MEETING
Desta also reiterated Asmara's denials that his country is supporting al
Shabaab in any way.
In May, the African Union called on the Security Council to sanction
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Desta insisted that "many African
nations do not support the idea of sanctions." He said Eritrea was urging
the AU to hold another summit meeting next year to discuss the sanctions
"When we speak with African leaders, many of them say they had no idea that
sanctions are being considered against Eritrea," he said. "They don't like
The AU officially supports sanctions against Asmara, but the organization's
current chair, Libya, has said it would vote against the Ugandan draft
resolution. The Libyans have a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council
until the end of December.
Council diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity that they expected
the council to vote on the resolution before the end of the year and
predicted it would get 14 votes in favor. Libya is likely to cast the sole
vote against it.
Security Council members from the West had originally expected negotiations
on the resolution to run into next year. But diplomats said an agreement had
emerged after Russia and China took an "unusually cooperative" stance on the
A U.N. arms monitoring body, which was set up to record violations of a 1992
arms embargo on Somalia, has said Asmara was sending munitions to Somali
rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support.
Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little
sign the latest attempt to establish a central government is proving any
more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in
1991. (Editing by Eric Beech)
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----