Eritrea thrown out of IGAD meeting

By Argaw Ashine
Wednesday, August 24  2011 

The six-country Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Wednesday blocked Eritrea’s representative from attending a ministerial meeting on Somalia.

Eritrea reactivated its membership to the bloc after four years of self-suspension, a decision initially welcomed by the IGAD secretariat.

But the country’s deputy ambassador to the African Union, Benyam Berhe, was in Addis Ababa told that his country’s membership status was still under review by the bloc’s heads of states.

Ministers and diplomats meeting then resisted the envoy’s concerted efforts to remain in the meeting room.

“We did not invite Eritrea to this meeting and he appeared in the hall by his own motive,” IGAD secretary general Mahbub Mualem told the Africa Review.

Mr Mualem said Eritrea’s membership would be discussed in any upcoming head of states meeting and that the horn of African remained suspended from all IGAD activities.

The IGAD chief also pointed out that the organisation had proposed to the UN further sanctions on Eritrea and that the case was under discussion in New York.

As such, it would not be easy for Eritrea to directly rejoin the bloc.

“We have ample evidence to show Eritrea’s negative role in this region, and we had earlier called on Asmara to rejoin the bloc but they rejected this,” said Mr Mualem.

“Why now? They know the UN is preparing for further sanctions.” The UN Security Council is preparing to vote on adopting a report that accuses increasingly isolated Asmara of working to destabilise the Horn of Africa region, including financing armed groups in Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti.

South Sudan has also applied for membership to IGAD and this will be decided on by the organisation’s heads of state before the end of this year.


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