INTERVIEW-Eritrea is not Kenya’s enemy, says envoy

* Eritrea denies funneling weapons to al Shabaab * Kenya says Eritrea should denounce Islamist rebels * Eritrea blames old foe Ethiopia for "fabrication" By Richard Lough NAIROBI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Eritrea has no interest in weakening Kenya

* Eritrea denies funneling weapons to al Shabaab

* Kenya says Eritrea should denounce Islamist rebels

* Eritrea blames old foe Ethiopia for “fabrication”

By Richard Lough

NAIROBI, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Eritrea has no interest in weakening Kenya or harming its soldiers by supplying weapons to the al Qaeda-linked rebels Kenya is fighting in neighbouring Somalia, Eritrea’s envoy to Nairobi said on Saturday.

Kenya has accused Eritrea of flying weapons into Somalia for the Islamist al Shabaab insurgents, who have been fighting the Western-backed government in the Horn of Africa nation since 2007, and are now battling Kenyan forces in the south.

“These are ghost flights,” Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya, Beyene Russom, told Reuters. “What do we gain by strengthening al Shabaab and weakening Kenya? We don’t want Kenyan troops to be harmed. We’re not Kenya’s enemy.”

Kenya says it has credible information that consignments of arms were flown to the Somali town of Baidoa and has pointed the finger at Eritrea, a charge Asmara has repeatedly denied.

Kenyan Colonal Cyrus Oguna told a news conference in Nairobi on Saturday the weapons consisted of shoulder-fired rockets, grenades and small arms munitions. He said they had been moved to areas in southern and central Somalia.

Kenya, the region’s biggest economy, sent troops into its anarchic neighbour last month to rout the insurgents it blames for kidnappings of Western aid workers and tourists on Kenyan soil, and frequent cross-border incursions.

Al Shabaab has denied responsibility for the seizures.

DON’T DENY, DENOUNCE

The U.N. has slapped an arms embargo on Eritrea, as well as a travel ban and an asset freeze on political and military leaders who it says are violating an arms embargo on Somalia.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to review calls for tighter sanctions against Eritrea later this month.

Eritrea’s envoy said all allegations about its support for al Shabaab should be viewed through the prism of its long-standing enmity with Ethiopia, and blamed Addis Ababa for peddling rumours about its support for the rebels.

The neighbours fought a brutal war that ended in 2000 but there is still a festering border dispute.

“This long history of allegations against Eritrea is Ethiopia’s fabrication. They want the world to forget their occupation of Eritrean territory and they want to weaken the government,” said Beyene.

A U.N.-founded boundary commission ruled the disputed territory belonged to Eritrea. It remains in Ethiopian hands.

“We are trying to clear our name against all these allegations in the U.N. Security Council. We are not being given the right to defend ourselves,” he said.

An official at Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday Eritrean denials of sending arms to al Shabaab were not enough.

“It may not be sufficient for the state of Eritrea to deny these allegations. It is important that they go a step further and even denounce the activities of al Shabaab,” Lindsay Kiptiness, deputy director at the Horn of Africa division at the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“We are still trying to engage the state of Eritrea to ensure that they are on our side with regard to these operations inside Somalia,” he said, adding the Eritrean foreign minister was due to visit Nairobi next week.

Kenya’s ministers have been touring the region in the past week to bolster support for its incursion into Somalia. They have visited Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi.

Kiptiness said Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula was also visiting Arab countries, such as Oman and United Arab Emirates, that have supported Somalia’s transitional government. (Additional reporting and writing by David Clarke; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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18 COMMENTS
  • Bus.Zone November 12, 2011

    PFDJ Old Dog Can Not Learn New Trick eventually they will be broken in to piece

  • Barentu November 13, 2011

    I was surprised to discover a newly published handbook on Eritrea in the internet. This is not a small book or as the author refers it “handbook” on Eritrea. It is a major book so far published as a handbook on Eritrean studies. It is of 422 pages, Africa in Focus series titled: Eritrea
    copyright 2011, by Mussie Tesfagiorgis G
    I was surprised because I have not seen any publicity or internet posting of this book, as you know I am often glued to the computer to read news and articles on Eritrea. If we can not know, how will the ordinary Eritrean know?
    Most of the discussion about Eritrea deals about current politics and the opposition, nothing on book reviews, history, culture, sport … are written or rarely discussed in Eritrean websites.
    Nothing is being written about book reviews, music reviews, educational reviews, cultural, historical reviews …
    Even historical issues such as Eritrean sport history in football, cycling, athletics, and architecture, medicine, farming … are ignored.
    The more we spend insulting each other, the more we lose the present moment that should have been used for better use.
    Congratulations to Mussie, job well done. I am glad ato Mussie Tesfagiorgis had used his precious time for good use.
    We all need to learn something from the likes of ato Mussie.

    • Rimabi2 November 14, 2011

      Let me back you Barentu to 1999 to 2000 when the private news paper emerged in Eritrea the was one page in one of them which called the writer of the page Tsigereada Unfortunately the right name of the writer was present the ministry of Information Eritrea Ali Abdu. The according your massage we didn’t know who you are may you could be one of the killers in the HGDEF regime as there is an opportunity to use other name and as well you could bring some points which could mislead to innocent, but for those who had a very good experiences of HGDEF we know them very well. Barentu is the nice place but you abusing the name by using to confuse people and to expand your killer ideology. I am afraid to say that if there was any one who support HGDEF at this time which means he is a Killer because this regime 100% killer.

      • Rimabi2 November 14, 2011

        Oh sorry Barentu I did replaed by mistake that is not for you and I did apologized for any innconvinent.

  • PFDJ(Popular Front for Dictatorship and Jail) November 13, 2011

    Everyone expects that Eritrea will deny,as it is his nature of Isayas regime, but it has never blame or denounce these terrorist,
    by hook or by crook, Eritrean regime is paving his way to death.
    so that the horn Africa will be integrated with peace.
    DIA, you use the same old trick, wake up and go to school learn from other countries including your neighbours,
    search for peace, dont search for wars and troubles

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