September 29, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) - Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Mohammed Saleh Saturday accused some Security Council members of seeking to hamper the lifting of international sanctions imposed on his country despite the recent reconciliation with Ethiopia and Somalia.
On December 23, 2009, the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on its leaders, and froze the assets of some political and military officials after accusing the Eritrean government of funding and arming Al-Shabaab group but Asmara denies the charges.
However, in July 2012, U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea reported that Eritrea had cut its support for the al Qaeda-allied militant group in Somalia.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly, Saleh pointed to the "unwarranted sanctions" on his country saying they have caused much of economic damage in Eritrea and once again called for its removal.
He further said that in spite of the historic reconciliation between his country Ethiopia and Somalia still there some international powers seeking to prevent the lift of
"With positive winds of peace flowing in our region, several UNSC member States are these days calling for the immediate lifting of the deplorable sanctions. The diplomatic discourse is not however fully coherent," he said.
"As it happens, some countries are looking for procedural and other pretexts and preconditions. The apparent aim is to move the goalpost and maintain the illegal sanctions on Eritrea," he stressed.
The Eritrean top diplomat was pointing to recent statements by Tibor Nagy, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for Africa who told the Congress last September that his administration has concerns over Eritrea’s human rights record and relations with North Korea.
Nagy cited the detention of U.S. embassy local staff and several Americans for "politically-motivated reasons". He further pointed to the detention of religious and political prisoners and the indefinite national service saying they are also a source of worry.
On North Korea, he said Washington wants a full explanation from Eritrea over past weapons purchases from North Korea highlighted in a U.N. report.
"Eritrea cannot assume that by saying wonderful things and opening good relations with the neighbours that will automatically lead to sanctions relief," stressed the former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia.
Asmara in the pas denied accusations of human rights violations by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.
Last July during a discussion on the lift of sanctions on Eritrea, the British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce said such matter needs more time to discuss it.
"At some point that will need to be reflected in what we do on sanctions. But the Council hasn’t had a full discussion of that yet," she told reporters after the UN Security Council meeting.