Leaders of East Arica’s eight-nation security and trading bloc met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Friday, to discuss security in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
During the 13th ordinary session of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) assembly of country heads, the leaders of six members discussed the findings of a task force on the region, which lies on key shipping lanes in global commerce.
The task force, established in an earlier foreign ministers meeting last February, had already indicated many challenges to tackle including illegal fishing, pollution, violent extremism, piracy, irregular migration and “ensuring the freedom of maritime navigation in the waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden”.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Somalian President Mohammed Abdella , Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and South Sudan President Salva Kiir attended the summit, were they also discussed the situations in South Sudan and Somalia.
In a speech, Prime Minister Abiy said Somalia had “come a long way from its difficult past”, adding that the region had made gains in numerous areas including a diplomatic thaw between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister and police chief Workineh Gebeyehu officially became IGAD’s executive secretary which was previously held by Kenyan Mahboub Maalim.
Leaders in the closed-door meeting are expected to vote for the next chair of the regional organization, to take over from Ethiopia.