The United Nations' preliminary rejection of Kenya's allegations of Eritrean arms shipments to Al-Shabaab does not undercut findings of Eritrean military support for the militia, a UN arms monitor told the Nationon Tuesday.
Matthew Bryden, coordinator of the world body's Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, said UN investigators stand by their annual report in July that "Eritrea still retains active linkages to Somali armed groups".
The UN Security Council tightened sanctions on Eritrea last month in response to evidence that the country is violating the UN embargo on military assistance to rebel forces in Somalia.
A leaked preliminary update to the monitoring group's annual report states, however, that Kenya's claim in November of Eritrean arms being flown into the Somali town of Baidoa are "incorrect".
Mr Bryden added on Tuesday that “we have no credible information indicating those flights took place.” Noting that Kenyan officials say they have further evidence of the Eritrean flights, Mr Bryden said the UN monitoring group would not draw a firm conclusion until after discussing the matter with Kenya.
Kenya UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau emphasised that the country's claim of arms deliveries to Al-Shabaab through Baidoa “was in no way the primary driver of the sanctions” imposed on Eritrea last month by the Security Council.
“The council acted on a wide range of developments,” Ambassador Kamau told the Nation on Monday.
He reiterated criticisms of Eritrea for supporting Al-Shabaab politically as well as militarily. “The least Eritrea could do is to speak clearly in condemning Al-Shabaab, which is something Eritrea has chosen not to do,” Ambassador Kamau said.
Mr Bryden told the Nation that the UN Monitoring Group also reaffirms what may be the most dramatic finding in its July report: that “in January 2011, the government of Eritrea conceived, planned, organised and directed a failed plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa by bombing a variety of civilian and governmental targets.”