Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni threw its support in backing Eritrea by dismissing the accusations labeled against the tiny red sea state for its alleged support to an al-Qaida affiliated group Al-Shabaab.
He has been heard at the joint press conference that he is now sure that there is no Eritrea connection with the notorious Al-Shabab terrorist groups.
“Al Shabaab is not supported by Eritrea that is what the president told you and that is what he told me. I accept it because he told me, he is an honorable comrade, he is not somebody who has just walked out of the slums,” he said.
President Afwerki, who ended his three-day state visit to Uganda on Thursday, has rejected the accusations instead urging those making the accusation to provide concrete evidence.
“It is very sad that all these fabrications have made their way into the minds of many including the media. We do not have an excuse to use on faction,” he said.
He described the accusations as fabrications based on illusions.
“I don’t want to talk about Shabaab. You get this out of your mind,” said Isaias. “Somalia is not Shabaab. This obsession with Shabaab is what is causing the problem there. The reconstitution of Somalia is not an option. Somaliland is there, Puntland is there, Mogadishu is there, Jubaland is there. We would like Somalia reconstituted after 20 years of disintegration,” he said.
“Shabaab is only serving the interests of those who want to maintain the disintegration of Somalia,” he added.
A United Nations (UN) Monitoring Group on Somalia accused Eritrea of funding the Al Shabaab with monthly payments of around $80,000 through its Embassy in Kenya. The report also estimates $70 – $100 million in revenue the Shabaab group generates from port duties and taxes every year.
However, some observers questioned the fairness of the accusations by simply comparing Eritrea’s alleged support with the revenue the group generates, which is less than 1%, and asked how such a very small support, even if taken as genuine, can really be a destabilizing factor in Somalia.
Afwerki argues the accusations that Eritrea is destabilizing the region are a distortion of its foreign policy and a deliberate exaggeration of its capacity.
The UN monitoring group in its report has also accused Muslim Kenyans as the main contributors and recruiters for the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab. The report said, “The al Qaeda-linked rebels have extensive funding, recruiting and training networks within Kenya.”
So far, no diplomatic pressure or accusations have been labeled against Kenya because of the UN report.
Afwerki’s visit to Uganda is seen as crucial to the peace and stability of the Eastern African region that has been plagued by war especially in Somalia.