As UN Council Delays Eritrea Sanctions and Guinea, Buries W. Sahara, France in Mix

By Matthew Russell Lee

Inner City Press

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 — With Christmas four days away, the UN Security Council has scheduled a December 23 vote on sanctions on Eritrea, delayed at the request of France, while putting off consideration of the UN’s report on war crimes in Guinea, because it is only in French. Meanwhile the promised briefing on Western Sahara, Moroccan sources gleefully tell Inner City Press, may not take place at all. Is this any way to run a Council and world?

Inner City Press asked this month’s Council president Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso what has happened to the briefing on Western Sahara, which several Council members affirm was agreed to be consensus last week. “We are still in consultations,” Kafando answered. Video here, from Minute 6:07.

Asked when the Council will meet on the already leaked report on war crimes in Guinea, Kafando claimed that the Council does not yet have the report. Later at the stakeout it was clarified that until the report is translated from French into English, the Council will not meet on it. Whether the translation can be done and distributed by Wednesday is not clear.

Murkiest of all is the resolution imposing sanctions on Eritrea. Last week it was said it would be put to a vote on Monday, with Libya abstaining or voting “no.”

But on Monday a Permanent Five member of the Council told Inner City Press that “France asked Uganda for a delay.” Uganda, an IGAD member, is the ostensible sponsor of the resolution, and has confirmed France’s request.

NEWS update 23/12/09

UN : repeat mistake against Eritrea….

The great day of September 1st 1961, which remains as one of the most important turning points in our history.

Awate, the man of history, occupies special place in our hearts and memories. He was the guardian, the defender and above all father and the founder of the Eritrean revolution. While Awate’s name was a source of terror and intimidation to the enemy’s ear and its collaborators, it was causing a sense of great hope for Eritreans, a feeling of protection, defiance, and confidence in the inevitability of the ultimate victory of their legal and just struggle.
Awate is the first Eritrean revolutionary and leader who fired thefirst bullet of Eritrean armed struggle with 13 other pioneers in the historic battle of Adal. He dedicated his life serving the cause of his people and demanded no less than the liberation of the man and the land.

History

Eritrea was part of the first Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum until its decline in the 8th century. It came under the control of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and later of the Egyptians. The Italians captured the coastal areas in 1885, and the Treaty of Uccialli (May 2, 1889) gave Italy sovereignty over part of Eritrea. The Italians named their colony after the Roman name for the Red Sea, Mare Erythraeum, and ruled it up until World War II. The British captured Eritrea in 1941 and later administered it as a UN Trust Territory until it became federated with Ethiopia on Sept. 15, 1952. It was made an Ethiopian province on Nov. 14, 1962. A civil war broke out against the Ethiopian government, led by rebel groups who opposed the union and wanted independence for Eritrea. Fighting continued over the next 32 years.

UN : repeat mistake against Eritrea….. 23/12/09

Title NEWS Adal voice

The United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions on Eritrea today in a move that in effect brands the country a pariah state.

The UN voted to punish Eritrea for illegally supplying arms to al-Qaeda-linked Islamic insurgents in Somalia and for occupying disputed territory on its border with Djibouti.

The 13-1 vote, with Libya against and China abstaining, represents an escalation of condemnation of Eritrea, which has repeatedly been accused of destabilising the Horn of Africa since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.

Eritrea has gone to war against both Ethiopia and Djibouti and backed al-Shabaab Islamic rebels battling the internationally recognised government in Somalia, despite an arms embargo on that country.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s UN envoy, said he hoped Eritrea would heed the warning sent by the Security Council in adopting today’s resolution.

“The United Kingdom urges Eritrea to stop its illegal actions … and to engage constructively with international partners to help increase stability in the Horn of Africa,” he said. “The nature of the international community’s engagement with Eritrea in future will depend on that response.”

But Eritrea’s ambassador to the UN rejected the Security Council resolution, blaming Ethiopia and the United States.

“The Security Council has decided to impose sanctions on Eritrea on fabricated lies mainly concocted by the Ethiopian regime and the US administration,” Araya Desta, the Eritrean envoy, said outside the meeting.

The Security Council resolution is a rare case of “secondary sanctions” being imposed on a country accused of sanctions-busting in another state.

A UN monitoring group has accused Eritrea of secretly shipping arms, including missiles and explosives, to Islamic insurgents trying to topple the Western-backed transitional government in Somalia, which has not had an effective government since the overthrow of the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The resolution demands that all UN member states, “in particular Eritrea, cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilise the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti”.

The arms embargo will cover imports and exports of arms into and out of Eritrea, and calls on other UN members to inspect all suspect air and sea cargo to or from Eritrea and Somalia.

The resolution also imposes a travel ban and asset freezes on “the Eritrean political and military leadership” and other individuals to be designated by a UN sanctions committee.

The measures were drafted by Uganda, a Security Council member with peacekeeping troops in Somalia, after a request for sanctions against Eritrea by the African Union.

Even so, Libya, the current African Union president, voted against the resolution saying that, as a former target of UN sanctions over the Lockerbie bombing, it opposed any UN sanctions on an African nation.