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Somalia Vindicated By IGAD Proposed Sanctions on Eritrea, Says Minister

Somalia's new government has welcomed calls by neighboring countries for the United Nations to impose an air and sea blockade to prevent hard line Islamic insurgents from easily getting access to weapons and fighters.

Mogadishu also said it was pleased with the fact that neighboring countries constituting the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have called for sanctions on neighboring Eritrea for supporting Somali insurgents.

Somalia has often accused Eritrea of supporting hard line Islamic insurgents including al-Shabaab who have vowed to eventually take over the country through violence. Eritrea denies the charges as unfounded.

Abdi Kadir Walayo is the spokesman for the Somali government. He told VOA that Mogadishu is grateful for the support shown by IGAD.

"The government welcomes that decision and it will help also to curtail those elements who engaged in subversive acts against the government and detrimental to the stability and the security of this country," Walayo said.

He said Mogadishu feels vindicated by IGAD's call for the United Nations to impose sanctions on neighboring Eritrea for its support of hard line Islamic insurgents including al-Shabaab.

"Yes, as you are aware to the fact that the internal security minster of Somalia had weeks ago leveled these accusations to Eritrea," he said.

Walayo said Asmara has often refused to recognize the new Somali administration.

"Eritrea has nakedly accused that there is no government in Somalia. And it was denying completely the incumbent government and because of that hostile position taken by Eritrea government, the (Somali) government supports that decision (sanctions) Vis a Vis to Asmara," Walayo said.

He said Mogadishu supports organizations including aid groups who are there to be helping the ordinary Somali adversely affected by the insurgency of the hard line Islamists.

"The government has imposed any restrictions about flights intended for humanitarian grounds to the ports to the many people scattered throughout the country… that blockade will not touch the humanitarian assistance," he said.

Walayo said the government has plans to restore peace to the country after at least 18 years without an effective government which led to a deterioration of stability.

"The government position is so clear and now the government is busy with restructuring the security agencies of the country," Walayo said.

He said the government has set in motion moves to restore peace in Somalia.

"There is a national security plan now in process and there is training program for the Somali security forces. There are some who have returned from abroad like Uganda and also like Sudan and these people may take part on the maintenance of peace and security in the country," he said.

He said it was too early to know when the United Nations would implement suggestions of IGAD to impose sanctions on neighboring Eritrea among others.

"I cannot predict what will happen, but this agreement reached by IGAD members I think is the best to pressurize the UN Security Council to adopt the IGAD entity which I think they will present through the African Union to the Security Council desk," he said.

There has been a United Nations arms embargo on Somalia for many years although indications are that weapons are readily available for hard line Islamic insurgents who are determined to overthrow the Somali government.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 after former President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown through a coup d'état, which effectively led to a deterioration of security in the capital, Mogadishu and the entire country.

Violent clashes instigated by Islamic hard liners including al-Shabaab has led to at least three million people dead and scores injured with increasing internally displaced persons.

Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al Qaeda, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize the new Somali government vowing to violently take over the country and impose the strict form of the Islamic Sharia law.