Eritrea’s neighbours say they are still considering its request to rejoin the East African body, Igad, after initially saying they welcomed its bid to end years of isolation. IGAD’s Executive Secretary, Mahboub Maalim, told the BBC that the process of rejoining the regional body was in the “very early, preliminary stages“.
Eritrea is under UN sanctions for its alleged support of Somalia’s al-Shabab. Analysts say rejoining Igad could be aimed at avoiding more sanctions. Being a member of Igad (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) would give it more diplomatic clout to resist moves to tighten measures.
Last week, the UN accused Eritrea of plotting to bomb January’s African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa – an accusation it denies. It also rejects charges that it has smuggled weapons to al-Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group which controls most of southern and central Somalia and has links to al-Qaeda.
Mr Maalim told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that it was up to member states whether to readmit Eritrea and said the decision would have to be taken at the “highest level”. Igad is currently chaired by Ethiopia, which remains Eritrea’s bitter foe after their 1998-2000 border war.
He also pointed out that the “serious allegations” against Eritrea would have to be taken into consideration.
He had earlier been quoted by the Reuters news agency as telling Eritrea’s Foreign Minister, Osman Saleh, in a letter that he welcomed the country’s “bold decision“.
“I am confident that the Igad member states, the Igad development partners and all Igad stakeholders will be delighted to see Eritrea back in the Igad family fold,” he said.
Eritrea accuses the West of not putting sufficient pressure on Ethiopia, an ally of the US, to respect an international commission’s finding that it should withdraw from the town of Badme, which sparked the war.
It pulled out of IGAD in 2007 after the body – made up of Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia – backed Ethiopia’s intervention to oust an Islamist precursor of al-Shabab from power in Mogadishu. (Source)
The Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a press statement today August 3, 2011 accusing Ethiopia, with a tacit support from some permanent Security Council members, of engaging in an intensive campaign to impose additional ‘economic’ sanctions on Eritrea. Here below is the content in its entirety:
PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE ERITREAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
In continuation of their evil campaign, the enemies of the Eritrean people are currently engaged in intensive campaign for imposing additional sanctions on Eritrea, placing the TPLF regime once again in the forefront. The TPLF regime that has been given orders to facilitate this design has distributed a “draft resolution for additional sanctions” through its permanent representative to the United Nations.
The draft resolution circulated in violation of the rules and procedures of the UN Security Council fully attests to the extent of frustration on the part of enemies of the Eritrean people.
The draft comprises the following:
- Call on all countries to take preventive measures of blocking remittances in support of development programs in the Homeland on the part of Eritrean citizens living in their respective countries;
- Call on all countries to prevent companies within their respective territories to avoid carrying out mining activities in Eritrea;
- Call on all countries to avoid buying gold or other minerals from Eritrea;
- Call on all international and financial institutions to avoid extending any assistance or loan to Eritrea.
The purpose of such a draft resolution prepared by a disturbed mind is essentially designed to provide cover to the illegal invasion and occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories. Moreover, it aims at impeding the development stride of the Eritrean people who, unlike those depending on handouts, have scored momentous achievements without being held hostage to enemy conspiracies.
The Government of Eritrea calls on the UN Security Council to annul the unjust sanctions resolution against Eritrea and condemn the TPLF regime’s acts of fomenting crisis and instability in the Horn region, without being misled by the current deceptive campaign. It further calls on the Council to live up to its obligations and see to it that the regime withdraw its forces from occupied sovereign Eritrean territories.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
3 August 2011