Labour peer and former Foreign Office minister Baroness Kinnock has demanded an explanation of why the UK “facilitated meetings between the Eritrean government and a range of mining and investment companies”.
Lady Kinnock wanted to know if the government had been helping an administration she called “one of the most secretive and repressive regimes in the whole world”.
Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi admitted such a meeting was “not something I’m aware of” and said Lady Kinnock was “more well-informed than I am on this issue” but promised to write to her.
The issue was first raised at questions on 30 January 2013 by Lib Dem Lord Chidgey, vice-chair of the all-party group on Africa.
Lord Chidgey said the appointment of Ethiopia’s new prime minister as chair of the African Union represented “shifting political ground” and an opportunity to “unlock the security stalemate” between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Bishop of Wakefield added it was a chance to “reset and promote regional reforms”.
Lady Warsi told peers the situation in Mali and Algeria “shows the importance of stable government” and stressed that Eritrea and Ethiopia “should continue to speak”.
There is a fragile peace in the one-party state of Eritrea following decades of fighting with Ethiopia and Yemen.
In late January, state television was temporarily taken off air when dissident soldiers reportedly stormed the ministry of information, calling for the implementation of the country’s 1997 constitution.
The Eritrean ambassador to South Africa told news agencies there was no sign of a coup.