Eritrean leader in Uganda for talks

2011-08-16 14:51
Kampala - Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki arrived in Uganda on Tuesday for a three-day state visit focusing on regional security, which his secretive country has been accused of destabilising.

East African states Ethiopia and Djibouti are leading calls for tougher UN sanctions against Asmara over charges that it supports al-Qaeda-linked militants, and the United States has thrown its weight behind that push.

"There are serious allegations that Eritrea is supporting al-Shebab in destabilising the Horn of Africa region, and so we will be hoping to hear responses to those issues," James Mugume, permanent secretary at the Ugandan foreign ministry, told AFP.

Uganda is a key contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) tasked with protecting the weak Somali government that the Shabaab rebels have been fighting to overthrow.

A UN report released in late July accused Eritrea of backing the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants, but Asmara has denied accusations that it is fuelling the conflict in Somalia.

Eritrea is seeking to end regional isolation and has applied to rejoin an East African peace bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), four years after it pulled out.

Eritrea withdrew from Igad over the 2006-2007 conflict in Somalia, where its arch-foe Ethiopia deployed troops to oust an Islamist movement.

Mugume hailed Issaias' visit as an important step by the small Red Sea state to rejoin the six-member regional body.

- SAPA
Read more on:    amisom  |  al-shabaab  |  igad  |  issaias afeworki  |  eritrea  |  uganda  |  east africa
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