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Eritrea says it is ready to rejoin IGAD

Storyline:National News, World

By Fauxile Kibet
GOOBJOOG NEWS|NAIROBI: Eritrea has stated that it will rejoin the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which it exited in 2007 after it suspended its membership in the regional body.
Eritrea suspended its membership in IGAD in 2007 after the organization endorsed a plan to allow foreign peacekeepers into Somalia to restore peace.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya after meeting with President William Ruto, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki said the Horn of Africa nation was considering rejoining IGAD and the regional efforts to integrate the region as a whole.
“We cannot achieve bilateral goals without first pushing for the broader integration of the region which we have been trying to create for decades. We have to create an organization that is functional so that we can say we have changed the face of the region,” the Eritrean leader said.
He added that Eritrea has not interfered with the ongoing peace process in Ethiopia saying that such a perception was pushed by individuals driving personal agendas in the region.
“We say enough is enough, Ethiopia must enjoy peace. Eritrea has no plan of getting involved in this matter without the permission of the Ethiopian government.”
He however observed that the debate should not be on whether Eritrean troops were in Ethiopia but rather on seeing that the agreement signed in Pretoria and Nairobi was implemented on the ground.
On his part, Kenyan president William Ruto said huge progress has been made in implementing the Pretoria and Nairobi peace agreements, which he described as a milestone in providing a solution to the region’s problems.
“The fact that we are making huge progress in ensuring that the Tigreans and Ethiopians coexist peacefully in accordance to the agreement is a testament that the region is making progress,” he said.

Kenya – Eritrea relations
The two countries also agreed to permanently scrap visa requirements for their citizens a move expected to catalyse the countries’ economic transformation.
“We must have a regime that is free of barriers to further integration, strengthen connectivity and enhance regional trade,” said President Ruto.
The two countries also agreed that there exists huge trade and investment potential between them that calls for structured collaboration.
They cited renewable energy, water management, agriculture, transport, security, tourism, sports mining, the blue economy and education.
As at 2020, the trade volume between Kenya and Eritrea stood at $7.34 million as compared with $25.7 million in 2015.
President Ruto said the relatively low figures were an indicator that the opportunity in trade is “enormous”. “With the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, we must cooperate in mapping out mutually beneficial strands of economic opportunities for our countries.”
He hailed Eritrea’s commitment to peace and stability in the region.
This, President Ruto noted, has paved the way for cooperation for regional peace and development.
President Afwerki said Eritrea was committed to taking measures that facilitate the deepening of economic, social and cultural relations with Kenya.
“We will keep promoting joint investment and work together towards enhancing sustainable peace and security,” he said during their joint media briefing.