I have never funded al-Shabaab - Afewerki

Friday August 19 2011

By ISAAC IMAKA

The visiting Eritrean President, who is facing UN sanctions and diplomatic isolation over his alleged role in destabilising the Horn of Africa, yesterday dismissed as untrue accusations that he funds terrorism in the region.

Mr Isaias Afewerki, who ended his three-day visit to Uganda yesterday, was speaking during a press conference at State House, Entebbe. He described al-Shabaab, the terrorist outfit the UN accuses him of supporting as a group unworthy of being discussed.

That was the response he offered to journalists who had asked him to explain his alleged links with al-Shabaab and its operations in Somalia. The visiting head of state, however, said he is ready and committed to ensuring that peace returns to Somalia.

“The issue here is not al Shabaab,” he said when asked whether it is true he funds the outfit. “I have not been involved in any wrongdoing and my aim has always been to see a reconstituted, free and liberated Somalia.”
He added; “those who talk about al-Shabaab are basing on assumption. Eritrea doesn’t support al-Shabaab.”

Asked whether it is true he tried to bomb an African Union meeting in Ethiopia in an attempt to cause a Baghdad in Addis Ababa’ as said in a UN monitoring report, Mr Afewerki dismissed the report as a baseless fabrication which will only give the al-Shabaab more power to strike.

“Those who are fabricating these reports as a business are wasting their time,” he said and asked the media to “get out of that mindset that al-Shabaab is an issue worth discussing.” Mr Museveni who kept interjecting ‘to throw more light’ on Mr Afewerki’s submissions said he believes his counterpart’s claims about al-Shabaab.

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