US: No more Eritrean ‘drama’ at the Security Council

Eritrea’s request to address the UN Security Council faces US opposition, Inner-city press reported from New York yesterday.Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki

Last week, Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki request to address the Security Council to avert a new round of sanctions.

A draft resolution to impose sanctions against investment in Eritrea’s mining industry as well as further asset freezes and travel bans on the country’s leadership has been submitted by the west African country and current member of the Security Council Gabon in mid-October.

This is in addition to the 2009 Security Council sanction on Eritrea which includes arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freeze on top Eritrean political and military leaders because of alleged support for the Islamist Shebaab militants.

The call for a new round of sanction gained wider acceptance after a UN Security Council report implicated Eritrea in a plot to bomb the January/2011 African Union summit in Addis Ababa, as well as various acts aimed the destabilizing the horn of Africa region.

The Eritrean President, however, hopes to sway the Security Council through a speech – without any substantive change in policy.

United States’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice, saw Isaias Afeworki request for meeting a waste of time.

When a reporter of Inner-city Press asked, on Thursday (New York time):

‘is the US against the idea of the President of Eritrea briefing the Council?’,

Amb. Susan Rice responded:

‘We had the foreign ministers come in July. That was sufficient drama for my taste. I think if one comes, they’ll call come. I’m not sure what we’ll hear that’s much different. I think any time you bring together leaders at that level with the degree of tension that exists between them. It’s not going to promote improved relations or greater peace and stability. So I think we have to be very cautious about it and thoughtful about it.’

The opposition to the Eritrean president request may not be shared by all members of the Security Council, the news indicated.

South Africa’s Ambassador was quoted as saying, in a comment to Inner-city press reporter, that ‘I don’t there anything wrong with hearing from the President [of Eritrea]’.

While the Chinese Ambassador is said to support the Eritrean president request to address the Council, the Portuguese Ambassador Cabral reportedly commented that if a country which is on the Security Council’s agenda asks to be heard, it should be. You can discuss the format, he said, but the country should be heard.

The issue will be the subject of a closed door Security Council consultation, according to the news.


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Daniel Berhane