British politician Lord David Alton.
- There are calls for an end to the 2% “Diaspora Tax” by Eritrean consular staff in the United Kingdom.
- Allegations are that the funds collected are aiding the army’s offensive in Tigray.
- The AU led talks in Pretoria, South Africa have gone beyond the set deadline date.
A United Kingdom parliamentarian is lobbying for sanctions against Eritrea for its role in the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The Eritrean army has been fighting alongside the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the two-year-long conflict.
Calls for a ceasefire have been accompanied by demands that the Eritrean army should leave Tigray, a province with which it shares a 200km border.
David Alton, a Crossbench Life Peer also known as Lord Alton of Liverpool, released a detailed report pointing to the continued collection of a 2% “Diaspora Tax” by Eritrean consular staff in the United Kingdom as a way of funding Eritrean forces in Tigray.
He is leading calls for an end to this “tax”.
Eritrea is cash poor, but despite this is calling up its citizens to fight in its neighbour’s costly, pitiless, brutal, and cruel war, which has been marked by mass atrocity crimes and accompanied by a scale of human suffering that is scarcely conceivable.
“Stopping the collection of this 2% Diaspora Tax would have a direct impact on Eritrea’s ability to wage war with neighbours – tragically all too evident in the horrific carnage of Tigray – and hamper its efforts to destabilise the Horn of Africa region,” he added.
The report has not been adopted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea, the House of Commons, or the House of Lords.
The African Union-led talks to end hostilities in Tigray are underway in Pretoria, but Eritrea is not attending.
READ | Key players and prospects: The Ethiopia-Tigray peace talks happening in Pretoria
The talks were meant to end on Sunday, but diplomatic sources say they will probably only conclude by Wednesday.
US State Department spokesperson Edward “Ned” Price said the elongated talks were an indication that both parties had a lot of unresolved issues that needed attention.
It’s an indication that the parties arrived in South Africa with quite a bit of distance between them.
“It’s also an indication that the parties continue to be willing to sit down together in what we hope to be a constructive atmosphere, and ultimately an atmosphere where the parties can discuss their differences and continue to narrow the distance between them.”
The US is an observer in the talks through Mike Hammer, the country’s Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa.
“Our special envoy will remain in South Africa for as long as the talks continue. At least that’s his plan as of now. We think it is a good thing that the parties continue to talk,” Price said.
With talks entering the homestretch over the weekend, Ethiopia threatened to cut diplomatic ties with countries that it believed were blaming it for the conflict.
Price emphasised that the US didn’t have a “sinister political agenda” and was guided by the resolve to find a peaceful solution in Ethiopia.
The goal of the United States, the goal of the AU-led mediation process, the AU-led talks is really quite simple: there is no ulterior political objective.
“The objective is quite simple: to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities, to achieve the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians in need, additional measures – securing measures to protect civilians, and see Eritrea’s withdrawal from northern Ethiopia,” he added.
The talks in South Africa are facilitated by the AU’s Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as former South African deputy president and member of the AU’s Panel of the Wise, Phumuzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
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