By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Eritrea on Wednesday rejoined the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country East African trade bloc based in Djibouti.
IGAD officially welcomed back Eritrea's membership, which was suspended in 2007, during the 33rd IGAD summit held in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir attended the event.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President and chairman of the African Union, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission were also among the participants.
The development came at the heels of regional efforts to resolve tensions and enhance cooperation between the Horn of Africa countries as initiated by Abiy Ahmed, who came to power on April 2 this year to become Africa’s youngest leader.
Last week, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somalian leaders met in Eritrean capital Asmara and signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement.
Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh received a call by Ethiopia that told Eritrea and Djibouti to resolve their differences — one of the items to be discussed on the IGAD leaders' agenda.
Eritrea was suspended after repeated fallouts with Ethiopia and Djibouti, and military clashes. Ethiopia and Eritrea have already normalized relations following a successful diplomatic thaw since June.
IGAD was established in 1996 as an 8-nation trade and security bloc that includes Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.