Home | News    Wednesday 7 December 2011

UN Security Council increases sanctions on Eritrea

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 5, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – The UN Security Council on Monday imposed additional sanctions against Eritrea in response to its continued “destabilizing nature” in the East African region.

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President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki addresses the UN Beneral Assembly, New York, September 23, 2011 (Getty)

The UN action follows appeals by Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda and Kenya, earlier on Monday, to impose tougher sanctions on Eritrea, accusing the government in Asmara of continuing to support al-Qaeda linked extremist groups in Somalia and other armed groups seeking to destabilise region.

Addressing the UN Security Council via video link the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) chairman and the prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, said “Eritrea is a prime source of instability for the whole region”.

"It’s a problem of attitude, of a certain clique in Asmara that has never grown up; it’s a problem of lawlessness and reckless disregard for international norms," Zenawi added.

Thirteen council members voted in support of the resolution. Russia and China abstained.

The new resolution stresses that Eritrea must cease "all direct or indirect efforts to destabilise states, including through financial, military, intelligence and non-military assistance."

It urges countries to “undertake appropriate measures to promote the exercise of vigilance” to prevent funding the country’s mining sector, which is believed could be a potential source of financial backing for activities destabilising the region.

The council also condemned Eritrea’s planned terrorist attack on the AU summit in Addis Ababa in July and the use of the tax collected from remittance of the Eritrean Diaspora in destabilising activities. Eritrea denied the allegations.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 but later engaged in a 1998 - 2000 bloody border war with its neighbour.

East African leaders have repeatedly appealed for additional sanctions against Eritrea, mainly on the countries economic and mining sector and other foreign financial sources to stop regime’s destabilizing role.

In July leaders of IGAD, after meeting in Addis Ababa, called on the AU and the UN to impose more sanctions on Eritrea.

The Eritrean government dismissed the calls, denying all charges brought by IGAD member states and appealed on the AU Peace and Security Council to reject the calls made by the regional bloc.

Asmara said evidence brought against it were the fabrications of Ethiopia, the current IGAD chair.

“Ethiopia furnishes no evidence for its preposterous charges against Eritrea, which in any case is totally unfounded” Eritrea said in a statement issued by the ministry of foreign affairs following IGAD meeting.

“Although the statement was issued in the name of IGAD, the anti-Eritrea campaign was and continues to be spearhead by Ethiopia”

Past measures taken against Eritrea included travel bans on the country’s top political and military officials, and the freezing of assets of some of its senior political and military officials.

The latest resolution is believed to increase the number Eritrean officials or individuals that could face a travel ban and asset freeze.