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IGAD condemns Eritrea over support to Somali Islamists

May 21, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers yesterday called on the UN Security Council to sanction Eritrea over call to over throw the Somali government.

In an extraordinary meeting dedicated to the security and political situation in Somalia on Thursday May 20 held in the Ethiopian capital the regional body appealed to impose sanction without delay on Eritrea saying Asmara called for the overthrow of the Somali government and attacks on African peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Presided over by Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, the meeting was attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG), State Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sudan and Executive Secretary of IGAD.

In a communiqué it issued at the end of the session, the IGAD called upon the UNSC to impose a no-fly zone, expect for humanitarian purposes authorized by the government. It also called upon the UN Security Council to impose a blockade on sea ports particularly Kismayo and Merka to prevent the further in-flow of arms and foreign fighters, in this regard the Council urged the UNSC to reach out to the international naval forces present in the region to enforce the blockade.

The meeting noted with grave concern the aggression in Somalia that has resulted in hundreds of deaths and the displacement of thousands of people, which has partly been exacerbated by an influx of foreign armed aggressors on Somalia.

The Council condemned the hardliner Islamist insurgents, Al Shebab and Hizbul Islam, for waging war in Somalia. It also said that Eritrea continues to instigate, recruit, train, fund and supply the criminal elements in and or to Somalia.

Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, became Somalia’s latest president earlier this year in a UN backed peace process in Djibouti.

The Somali transitional government accused Eritrea of supporting Al-Shebab fighters with planeloads of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons.

The Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki dismissed today to Reuters the accusations that Asmara is arming Somalia’s Islamist rebels saying such accusation was the work of CIA agents in the region aiming at blackening his government’s name.

Isaias further said the new government of Somalia looked doomed to fail because it was imposed from outside. "Leave this for the Somalis," he said.

The IGAD leaders condemned in July 2008 Eritrean attack against its neighboring Djibouti.

Eritrea suspended its membership in the regional organization last year after other members refused to criticize its archrival Ethiopia for sending troops to Somalia.

(ST)