giovedì 25 febbraio 2010

Eritrea says US-led sanctions won't derail economy

By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA (Reuters) - Eritrea's ruling party will press ahead with its economic development plans despite U.N. sanctions and what it sees as anti-Eritrean hostility manufactured by the United States, local media reported on Wednesday. Abdalla Jabir, head of organisational affairs in the ruling party, accused the United States of masterminding the U.N. resolution and said the economy would thrive despite punitive measures, the state-run, twice-weekly Eritrea Profile reported. The sanctions, adopted in December and backed by 13 of the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, include an arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freezes for some of the country's top officials. "The shameful and unjust US sanctions resolution adopted in the name of the Security Council (will) accelerate the pace of (our) development endeavours towards ensuring economic emancipation," the Profile reported Abdalla as saying. The U.N. Security Council accuses Asmara of providing funds and weapons to Islamist insurgents in Somalia where 21,000 people have been killed in violence since the beginning of 2007. Asmara says the Security Council is a proxy for Washington, and says the multi-state body continues to ignore the fact that their territory is being occupied by arch-rival Ethiopia, Washington's strongest ally in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea's agriculture-based economy contracted sharply in 2008 as inflation surged to double digits, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But better rains in 2009 are expected to spur a recovery, with the IMF forecasting growth of around 3.5 percent this year. The government is taking steps to reduce the economy's dependence on rainfall patterns. U.S. RELATIONS STRAINED "(Eritrea has) managed to rebuff the continued anti-Eritrea hostility weaved on the part of the United States and its servant regimes over the past 12 years," the Profile reported Abdalla as saying. The official's comments come the same week as protests were held in western capitals denouncing the sanctions, which local media say were attended by hundreds of thousands. On Monday the U.S. embassy in Asmara criticised President Isaias Afwerki for "destabilising" the region, although it later posted a statement on its website that described anti-U.S. protests as an expression of free speech. Relations between the government and the U.S. embassy are antagonistic and the American ambassador has not been formally recognised by Asmara despite being in the country for over two years.

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