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22/11/09

AP – NEWS

A proposed U.N. resolution is calling for an arms embargo and other tough sanctions against Eritrea for supplying arms to opponents of the Somali government and refusing to resolve a border dispute with Djibouti.Uganda has circulated the draft to the 14 other members of the United Nations Security Council but diplomats said Friday no experts meeting has been scheduled to discuss it.Some council members are privately concerned that the proposed resolution, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, is too tough and might make it even more difficult to deal with the tiny Red Sea nation of Eritrea.

 

It would impose an arms embargo, call on U.N. member states to inspect all suspect cargo between Eritrea and Somalia, and impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Eritrea’s political and military leadership. It would also freeze the assets of government and private companies that violate the arms embargo.

The draft resolution also calls for financial and travel sanctions against any Eritrean individuals or entities that support Somalia’s armed opposition, obstruct implementation of a council resolution demanding that Eritrea pull its troops back from the Djibouti border, or support acts of violence or terrorist acts in the region.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. It has been feuding over its border with Ethiopia ever since, and uncertainty over its border with the tiny port nation of Djibouti led to hostilities between the two countries twice in the 1990s.

In June 2008, the Security Council condemned Eritrea for launching an attack against Djibouti, a key U.S. ally in the Horn of Africa, which the U.S. said left 44 Djiboutian soldiers dead and many more missing. The council called for a cease-fire and urged the two countries to withdraw their forces from the border, which overlooks key Red Sea shipping lanes. Djibouti did, but Eritrea has not.

The U.S. and Britain have also accused Eritrea of supplying weapons to opponents of Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.

Last month, Britain called for sanctions against Eritrea for supplying arms to Somalia’s opponents. The African Union has also asked the Security Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea.

The draft resolution demands that Eritrea comply with the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and withdraw its forces from the Djibouti border.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos and anarchy. The fragile U.N.-backed government and an undermanned, poorly resourced African Union peacekeeping force have struggled to defend government buildings, the port and airport in the capital, Mogadishu _ most recently rebuffing an offensive by Al-Shabab and the allied Islamic Party.

The Islamist militia group was designated a terrorist group by Washington in 2008 and has been trying to topple the transitional government.

The draft resolution demands that Eritrea stop all assistance to Al-Shabab and other militias trying to destabilize Somalia and incite “violence and civil strife in Djibouti, including the issuance of passports to non-Eritrean nationals.