Eritrea asks U.N. to replace “biased” Somalia panel
By Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Eritrea has called on the United Nations to replace what it says is a "biased" monitoring group on Somalia after the panel's report prompted sanctions on Asmara
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Eritrea has called on the United Nations to replace what it says is a “biased” monitoring group on Somalia after the panel’s report prompted sanctions on Asmara over links with militant groups in Mogadishu, according to a letter sent to the Security Council.
The reclusive Red Sea state is incensed by a raft of accusations published by the U.N. Monitoring Group report on Somalia in July which accused Asmara of providing political, financial, training and logistical support to al Shabaab militants and other armed groups in Somalia.
Eritrea denies the charges.
The report triggered a Security Council resolution on Dec. 5 that expanded sanctions against Eritrea for continuing to provide support to Islamist militants. The resolution also urged countries to make their companies involved in mining in Eritrea to exercise vigilance to ensure funds were not used to destabilise the region.
Eritrea had already been slapped with an arms embargo, assets freeze and travel ban in 2009.
In a letter obtained by Reuters, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh urged the Security Council’s current chair, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin, to establish an “independent, impartial and credible body”.
Saleh said the monitoring group had “failed to garner the support of many (council) members due to its lack of independence, professionalism, impartiality and objectivity, as well as its susceptibility to political influences”.
Saleh also called for the lifting of sanctions, saying they were rooted on “fabricated” accusations emanating from “hostile political objectives”, according to the letter dated Dec. 19.
Despite repeated denials that it is not a destabilising force in the volatile Horn of Africa region, Eritrea is widely regarded in the international community as a pariah state and is deeply mistrusted by its neighbours. Analysts say its latest request will probably fall on deaf ears.
The monitoring group was set up by the Security Council in 2002 to monitor embargoes on the delivery of arms to Somalia. Its mandate was expanded in July, allowing the group to investigate revenues generated from rebel-held seaports in the anarchic country.
Eritrea, however, says the monitoring group has come under heavy influence from arch-foe Ethiopia and the United States and dismisses any links with Somalia’s militants, including the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels.
Eritrea is at loggerheads with Ethiopia over disputed territory and accuses the U.S. of failing to force Addis Ababa to hand over disputed land that was awarded to the Red Sea state by a U.N. commission after a border dispute a decade ago.
The Horn of Africa nation has also accused Washington of obstructing President Isaias Afewerki’s attempt to address the Security Council ahead of the sanctions resolution.