(Bloomberg) — Ethiopia and Djibouti accused Eritrea of
sabotaging regional stability, a charge denied by the Horn of
Africa nation which has fought with both neighbors.

Eritrea’s government has a “continuous destabilization
policy” and the international community should tighten
sanctions, the leaders of Ethiopia and Djibouti said in a
statement following a week of talks that ended on Feb. 9. They
didn’t give further details on the accusations. The United
Nations in 2009 imposed sanctions on Eritrea after allegations
it supported insurgents in Somalia.

Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry said it was “appalled” by an
“unwarranted and calumnious act of hostility.” Ethiopia’s
“continued occupation of sovereign Eritrea territories” is
“the singular and central cause of regional destabilization,”
it said in a Thursday statement. There is “increasing awareness
in the international community” that the UN sanctions are
unjustified, the ministry said, without giving any details.

The UN Security Council in December 2009 voted to ban the
travel and freeze the assets of selected Eritrean government and
army leaders accused of being allied with al-Qaeda-linked
militants attempting to topple the government in Somalia. The
measure imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and authorized
inspection of cargo going to or from the country on the Red Sea.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in a
report submitted to the Security Council in October that it had
found no evidence of Eritrean support for al-Shabaab.

Disputed Areas

Eritrea, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993
after three decades of conflict, fought again with its southern
neighbor in 1998-2000. That war left an estimated 70,000 people
dead and Ethiopia in control of Badme, the disputed territory
that triggered the conflict. A UN boundary commission ruled in
2002 that Badme belonged to Eritrea. Ethiopia has rejected that
ruling and still occupies the town.

A territorial dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea led to
several days of fighting in June 2008. Twelve Djiboutian and an
undisclosed number of Eritrean soldiers were killed. Qatari
forces were deployed in the disputed areas and the UN has urged
a peaceful resolution.

“Djibouti’s unwarranted stance is also difficult to
decipher,” Eritrea said in the Feb. 12 statement. The border
dispute is “entrusted to the good offices of a mutually agreed
third party,” it said. “Djibouti’s premature and hostile
stance is hard to explain in terms of a pending, good-faith
dispute.”

President Isaias Afwerki, a former rebel leader, has ruled
Eritrea since independence. The country has no privately owned
press and the government has arbitrarily detained thousands of
people including opposition supporters and journalists over the
past decade, according to Amnesty International, the London-based advocacy group.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Samuel Gebre in Nairobi at
pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Paul Richardson at
pmrichardson@bloomberg.net
Ben Holland