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Eritrea Rep Says Maybe Ethiopia Offers Help Ping 2d AU Term As Trade for Sanctions, Others Talk Zuma

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 30, updated -- Amid widespread questioning in the UN Security Council of the push to vote today on new Eritrea sanctions, with the US having blocked a request from Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to talk to the Council, Gabon midday on Wednesday again said it would call for a vote later that day.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that Russia has threatened to veto.

  Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the November 29 letter to the Council from Eritrea's UN Ambassador Araya Desta, and asked Desta about it. "It is the third letter," Desta told Inner City Press.

  The letter says, "It has come to my attention that the delebation of Gabon intends to table the draft resolution on Eritrea for action tomorrow... I appeal to your Excellency that H.E. Mr. Isaias Afwerki, President of the State of Eritrea, be given the audience to address the [UNSC] before any action is taken on the draft resolution."

  Desta speaking exclusively to Inner City Press went further: "What does Gabon know about Eritrea? Where it is? They don't even know the location of Eritrea." Significantly, larger African member of the Council South Africa is known to oppose voting on Wednesday on the proposed sanctions.

  Desta told Inner City Press, "It is crazy to penalize the Eritrean people in order to get a second term for Jean Ping as commissioner of the African Union." He mused, "maybe Meles [Zenawi] tells him, I'll help you get a second term, if you help" put more sanctions on Eritrea.

  Inner City Press asked Desta why he thought the US was being so adamant. Desta said "my President has write two or three letters" to President Obama, "my foreign minister met with them."

  Some have alluded to the US "using" Ethiopia to fight Islamists in Somalia, first the Islamic Courts and now Al Shabaab, including it's said from drone bases in Ethiopia.

(c) UN Photo
Ping, TFG President, Ban Ki-moon and Kim-won soo, SC due process not shown

  To be less US-focused, Eritrea clearly has enemies among other neighbors: Djibouti, for example, often buzzes around the Security Council. But the idea that a head of state should on request be allowed to address the Security Council before such sanctions are voted on seems to be widely held. Watch this site.

Update: Still on the AU, later on Wednesday a representative of one of Eritrea's neighbors came to complain to Inner City Press that "South Africa is pressuring us to vote as Zuma says" -- that is, Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma, former SA Foreign Minister & current SA Home Affairs Minister -- "now it's just sour grapes on their part. They need to decide if they are with the BRICS or with Africa." Others would say it's not either / or....

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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