AU, UN support proposed sanctions on Eritrea for Somalia conflict

May 28th, 2009 | by addis portal |

by Daniel Ooko    NAIROBI, May 28 (Xinhua) — The Africa Union (AU) and United Nations stand for a regional recommendation that the UN Security Council impose sanctions on Eritrea for interfering with the conflict in Somalia despite Asmara’s denial.

    In a joint statement issued in Nairobi on Thursday, the six nation regional mediation body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), UN and AU Special Representatives for Somalia voiced support for the resolution reached during last week’s extraordinary session of the IGAD council of ministers on the security and political situation in Somalia.

    “We have no doubt that all IGAD member states and civil society organizations will support the Communiques and we urge the UN Security Council to give them immediate and due consideration and discuss them further,” they said in the joint statement.

    Somalia accuses neighboring Eritrea of supporting hardline insurgent groups including Al-Shabaab militia who aim to overthrow the new Somali administration.

    But Asmara denies the charges, denouncing as irresponsible and illegal the recommendation by Somalia’s neighbors reached during their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    During the Addis Ababa meeting, the IGAD and AU Peace and Security Council recommended to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea, accusing Asmara of supporting hard line Somali insurgents who are fighting the government.

    The recommendation prompted Asmara to recall its ambassador to the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, a move of souring ties between Eritrea and the continental body.

    But the representatives of the IGAD, the AU and the UN said they agreed to support the minister’s resolution after discussing developments in Somalia.

    “We have noted with great interest and appreciation the Communique which resulted from the IGAD meeting. Furthermore we noted with equal satisfaction the supportive Communique adopted by the African Union Peace and Security Council of May 22,” the statement said.

    “We consider these important contributions particularly given IGAD’s close geographical and cultural ties to Somalia and its member states’ knowledge of the country.

    “We have further agreed for our three institutions to continue to work together in close partnership to deliver on our mandates and implement future decisions made by the UN Security Council,” the AU, IGAD and UN representatives said.

    The development came as a radical cleric on the U.S. terror list, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, formally became leader of the Somali Islamist rebel group Hisbul-Islam on Wednesday.

    The outgoing head of rebel group Hezbul Islam (Islamic Party), Omar Abubakar, said he had not come under any pressure to hand over the leadership to Aweys.

    The militia and an allied hardline group Al-Shabaab have been locked in fierce battles with pro-government forces that have displaced more than 67,000 civilians since May 8.

    The AU said public pronouncement by Aweys that his insurgent group receives help from Eritrea supports its suspicion of Asmara.

    Mogadishu says Eritrea supports Islamist militants with planeloads of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons to fuel fighting.

    Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki has sharply denied the allegation, saying U. S. agents were spreading lies to tarnish the reputation of his government.

    Aweys, who returned from exile last month, was already regarded as the spiritual leader of Hezbul Islam. Hardline Somali Islamic insurgents including Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam are fighting President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government with the aim of taking over the country.

    President Ahmed’s introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased radicals like Aweys, who have sworn to topple the administration and impose a stricter version of Islamic rule.

    Al-Shabaab has described the new Somali administration as a creation of the West to control the natural resources of the country.

    Dubbed by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab has refused to recognize the new Somali administration, vowing violent fight for a country with a strict Sharia law.

    Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 after former President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in a coup d’etat, leaving the Horn of Africa state in constant warfare ever since.

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