Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eritrea criticises ‘foreign meddling’ in Somali affairs - World |


Asmara has been accused of supporting al-Shabaab which is fighting to oust Somalia’s transitional government.

Monitor Correspondent

Eritrea has proposed a “Somali people-owned” dialogue and criticised foreign meddling ahead of a major conference today that will focus on better coordinating the international response to the country that has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

The Eritrean ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said that unless the peace talks set for London were all-inclusive it would not be easy to achieve enduring peace for the Horn of Africa nation.

Asmara said since “some powers” had “deliberately” kept it out of the conference, its position needed to be known.

Eritrea has been accused of supporting the militant al-Shabaab group that has been fighting to oust Somalia’s transitional government, in part informing UN sanctions slapped on the isolated Red Sea nation.

The statement did not provide details of how the proposed peace plan would be achieved but also strongly denounced on-going military interventions by Somalia’s neighbours including Kenya and Ethiopia.

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““The experience of the past two decades has repeatedly and amply demonstrated that only Somalis can find enduring solution for themselves and their country. Clearly what is required is a Somali-owned and Somali-driven political process.”

The US, Turkey, UAE, Sweden, the AU and the EU are expected to attend the conference hosted by British prime minister David Cameron and which will seek ways of stabilising the war-wracked country.

A diplomatic source confirmed that the heads of state of Somalia, the semi-autonomous Somaliland, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Sweden and Uganda would also be attending.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon are also expected.

“External actors, even those most friendly and sympathetic to Somalia, need to resist the urge to act on behalf of the Somali people as such an approach has been repeatedly proven to be counter-productive,” Eritrean foreign ministry said.

The statement also called for a replacement of the transitional government with a “people’s choice” and said that the issue of Somaliland’s sovereignty should also be discussed.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but is not recognised by the international community. Asmara said it believed a unified Somalia is a viable solution to stabilise the region, and said that a “credible political settlement” would also help solve the piracy and terrorism problems in the region.

Eritrea, seen as restrictive by western governments, has been lobbying against the UN sanctions. A delegation led by Foreign Affairs minister Osman Saleh was three weeks ago in London but is said to have had limited success with UK officials saying their concerns over deteriorating human rights conditions in the country needed to be addressed first.

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