Eritrea wants UN action on Kenya
22 November 2011, 08:34
Addis Abba - Eritrea
has complained to the U.N. Security Council about Kenyan allegations
that it sent weapons to Islamist rebels in Somalia, calling for an
independent investigation to judge the dispute.
Foreign Minister Osman Saleh said in a letter to the Council that
Eritrea was confident an investigation would find Nairobi's
"defamatory" accusations to be baseless, and urged the United Nations to
take action against Kenya in the dispute.
Nairobi has accused Eritrea of flying in weapons for al Shabaab,
an insurgent group liked to al Qaeda which has been fighting the
Western-backed Somali government since 2007, and which is now also
battling Kenyan forces.
"If, as Eritrea confidently believes, the investigation determines
that there is no basis whatsoever to the very serious and harmful
accusations by the government of Kenya, Eritrea calls on the Security
Council to take action that would redress the injustice suffered by the
people and government of Eritrea," Saleh wrote in the letter, seen by
"Defamation of a member state of the United Nations should not be
indulged in with impunity and must not be tolerated, given its negative
implications for regional peace and security," he said in the letter,
dated November 16.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia, its anarchic neighbour, last
month to rout the insurgents which it blames for kidnappings of Western
aid workers and tourists on Kenyan soil, and frequent cross-border
Nairobi says it has credible information that consignments of
arms were flown to the Somali town of Baidoa from Eritrea. Kenyan
officials have said that Eritrean denials are not enough, and that it
should go further and denounce al Shabaab.
Saleh's letter to Jose Filipe Cabral, the Security Council's
rotating president for November, gave no details on who might conduct
the investigation, nor did it say what action Eritrea wanted.
However, Eritrea's envoy to the African Union said the Kenyan allegations should be publicly dismissed as a first step.
"It is up to the U.N. Security Council to take whatever action it
feels appropriate and necessary to rectify such baseless allegations
and defamation of a member state," envoy Girma Asmerom told Reuters.
"However, as a starter, I strongly feel that the U.N. Security
Council should urge the government of Kenya to publicly rescind its
baseless accusation against Eritrea," he said.
Kenyan officials have said the weapons consisted of
shoulder-fired rockets, grenades and small arms munitions, and that they
have been moved to areas in southern and central Somalia.
Slapped with an arms embargo, assets freeze and a travel ban for
some of its officials in 2009, Eritrea faces another round of measures
over charges it was aiding militants fighting to overthrow the
internationally-backed Mogadishu government.
Asmara accuses Ethiopia of being behind the claims through a
"frenzied campaign" to isolate and weaken its government. The neighbours
fought a two-year war over disputed territory a decade ago but the
frontier spat has yet to be resolved.
Scores of Ethiopian military vehicles carrying soldiers have
been spotted by residents in Somalia's frontier towns in what could be a joint attempt to flush out al Shabaab.
Ethiopian officials, however, say they have yet to decide on
deploying troops, though they are committed to a regional initiative to
stabilise the lawless Horn of Africa country.