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Eritrean president turns down calls to return to IGAD

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August 15, 2008 (ASMARA) — The Eritrean president turned down calls to rejoin the east African organisation of IGAD asking to reorganise it first in order to enable it to achieve its goals.

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Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki

Isaias Afwerki held talks on Friday with the Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor and the Kenyan counterpart Moses Wetang’ula who arrived to Asmara in abide to convince him to return to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as it was decided in a summit of the head of states last June in Addis Ababa.

Disillusioned with the eastern African body, Eritrea suspended its IGAD membership in April 2007 in protest to member states refusal to condemn and take actions against Ethiopia for sending troops to Somalia.

Speaking to the delegation, Afwerki criticised the weakness regional boy saying "it has been complicating matters". He underlined that Eritrea suspended its membership as result of its support to "Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia," which is member state of the organisation.
He added that "instead of trying to resolve some issues, IGAD has been complicating matters."

Afwerki suggested the need to reorganise and redefine of the regional body, saying that peace and security should be prioritised among the objectives of the IGAD instead of common market and regional integration.

He also stressed the need for IGAD not only to get restructured but also to adopt a new mechanism.

The states member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) agreed in Addis Ababa, on 18 April 1995, to transform their east African organization and redefine its objectives by expanding its areas of regional co-operation.

This would create the IGAD, a fully-fledged regional political, economic, development, trade and security entity similar to the South African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Eritrea was one of seven member countries of IGAD. The Member countries of the Djibouti-based organisation include: Kenya; Ethiopia; Djibouti; Uganda; Sudan; and Somalia.

(ST)

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