Eritrea-Canada Diplomacy: Eritrean envoy in Canada declared persona non grata by the Canadian government / Africa News

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The Canadian government has directed the Eritrean envoy in the country to leave the country over allegation of extorting monies from Eritrean citizens in Canada to fund the Eritrean army.

The Consulate General of Eritrea in Toronto has long been accused by the Canadian government of running a collection racket set up to finance the regime and its armed forces.

Canada said Semere Ghebremariam Micael who is the head of the Eritrean Consulate General in Toronto, has been under surveillance over the practice and he has been caught clear this time.

The National Post newspaper in Canada first reported in 201 that the Eritrean consulate in Canada was acting as a fundraising front that is soliciting a 2% income tax and a $300 to $500 national defence fee from Eritrean expatriates in Canada.

The scheme was considered illegal because the United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military four years ago over its ties to Al-Shabab militants in Somalia who are believed to have links with al-Qaeda.

The Canadian government moved On Wednesday to shut the scheme down and ordered the expulsion of Consul Semere Ghebremariam O. Micael over his persistent efforts to use the consulate to violate the United Nations military embargo.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Mr. Micael had been declared persona non grata and has been directed to leave the country before June 6.

“Canada has repeatedly made clear to Eritrea to respect international sanctions and Canadian law,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The statement further added that Mr. Michael has previously been warned against collecting funds from Eritrean expatriates living in Canada which he agreed to stop the practice.

But recent reports it further said, Mr. Michael had again started demanding the payments of which some victims reported to the Canadian government.

The Canadian government reportedly told Eritrea on Wednesday that it was willing to accept a new envoy to replacement for Mr. Micael, but that person must also be prepared to play by the rules.

Some of the victims were quoted by the Canadian press admitting that they have been charged the unlawful tax by the consul.

“You have to go to the consulate and they arrange how you have to pay the money, they want 2%… they don’t give you a reason. You have to pay the money or your family [in Eritrea] would get in trouble if you don’t pay’’, an anonymous source told the Canadian press.

The Eritrean government has not officially commented on the matter but Mr. Michael has denied the allegation saying he was merely providing information to those who want to donate to the army back home.

The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military four years ago over its ties to Al-Shabab militants in Somalia who are believed to have links with al-Qaeda and destabilizing countries in Eastern Africa including Somalia and Kenya.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

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