UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council on Monday toughened sanctions against Eritrea after East African governments accused the isolated state of plotting terrorist attacks and supporting rebel groups.
A resolution, passed with 13 votes in favor, while Russia and China abstained, allows the council to increase the number of individuals and entities that can be hit with a travel ban and assets freeze.
The resolution demands that Eritrea “cease all direct or indirect efforts to destabilize states, including through financial, military, intelligence and non-military assistance.”
Eritrea has backed Shebab Islamist militants in Somalia, according to a UN sanctions monitoring group and neighboring governments.
The resolution also “condemns” an alleged Eritrean plot to bomb an African summit in Addis Ababa in January.
However demands made by Gabon and Nigeria, which drew up the resolution, to include a ban on investment in Eritrea’s key mining industry and a government tax on remittances sent back by Eritrean workers abroad were dropped.
The action was passed after several East African leaders called on the 15-member Security Council to clamp down on Eritrea, which was first hit by UN sanctions in 2009.
“It is a problem of attitude of a certain clique in Asmara that has never grown up from a rebel group,” said Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. “It is a problem of lawlessness and reckless disregard for international law.”
“The regime in Eritrea insists on terrorizing my people,” said Somalia’s President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
Eritrea has strongly denied the claims made about its activities. But no Eritrean officials spoke at the meetings.
After the vote, US ambassador Susan Rice said: “We have sent a clear message to the government of Eritrea that it must cease all illegal actions threatening international peace and stability.”
“Our goal is to show Eritrea that it will pay an ever higher price for its actions,” the US envoy added.