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UN Security Council Considering Sanctions Against Eritrea, Others

The U.N. Security Council said it will consider implementing sanctions against Eritrea and other spoilers to the Somali peace process. The council's decision Thursday followed an appeal from the African Union for the council to take action against those undermining the peace process in the Horn of Africa country.

The Security Council expressed its support for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, and said the Djibouti peace process provides a framework for finding a lasting resolution to the decades-long conflict in Somalia.

But noting recent attacks on the government, civilians and African Union peacekeepers, the Security Council said it would consider the African Union's call for the council to enforce sanctions against parties undermining the peace process.

Several council members, including U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, pointed a finger at Eritrea, which stands accused of supporting extremists in Somalia.

"The United States is particularly concerned about the financial, military, logistical and political support that the government of Eritrea is offering to al-Shabab and other extremists in Somalia," said Rice.

She said the United States and others have repeatedly tried to engage Eritrea's leaders, with the aim of getting them to stop aiding illegal armed groups, but those attempts have been rebuffed. She said it is not too late for Eritrea to change course.

The council has the power to implement sanctions based on earlier resolutions it has adopted on Somalia. The Somalia Sanctions Committee, which is headed by Mexico, has a report due at the end of this month and could recommend then which entities or individuals to sanction. Those measures could include travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes.

The Security Council also expressed support for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM.

Uganda and Burundi provide the bulk of the current force of just over 4,000 troops. AMISOM has an authorized strength of 8,000, and council members called on African states to contribute the four more battalions that are still needed. They also appealed to other member states to provide equipment, including boats and helicopters. The force operates mainly in Mogadishu, where it provides security for ports and other strategic locations.