IGAD hopes to fix Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute


Mar 23, 2006 (KHARTUM) — East Africa must focus on solving the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute and also bolster the continent’s credibility by shepherding Sudan’s and Somalia’s peace deals, regional leaders said on Monday.

As well as the tenuous aftermath of civil wars in Somalia and Sudan and the potential of renewed conflict on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, the leaders were using their Nairobi summit to discuss a devastating drought, diplomats said.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to exercise restraint and negotiate to end a row over their border, the source of a 1998-2000 war that killed 70,000 people.

“I believe that there is a window of opportunity to resolve the simmering tensions amicably,” Kibaki told the summit.

Kibaki on Monday assumed a two-year chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a 7-member bloc founded in 1986 to counter drought and desertification.

Since then, it has metamorphosed to push peace and development in its member states – Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

It led talks to end Sudan’s two-decade civil war with an historic peace pact in January 2005, and those that created Somalia’s transitional federal goverment in late 2004.

To boost Africa’s integrity, those peace plans must succeed, African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said.

“No room should be left for scepticism in the international community,” he said in a speech.

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