East African bloc kicks off summit in Uganda

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in East Africa, kicked off its Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Thursday in Uganda.

Leaders of the organization, made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, called for the 42nd Extraordinary Session to contain a wave of tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia and breathe new life into face-to-face meetings between the heads of Sudan’s warring factions, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

Both Sudan and Ethiopia declined to attend.

Those taking part include Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Kenya’s President William Ruto, and the host, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Somalia accuses Ethiopia of plans to grab its land following a “surprise pact” between Ethiopia and Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland giving Ethiopia access to the Red Sea. Somalia rejects this as a violation of its sovereignty. 

Ethiopia lost its access to the Red Sea ports in 1991 after the Eritrean War of Independence.

The Ethiopian government snubbed the IGAD summit, saying they had commitments elsewhere. In a statement issued Tuesday, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry cited the timeline as the obstacle to the planned meeting, arguing that the leadership had scheduled a different engagement for the day.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry announce Tuesday that it had suspended its involvement with IGAD regarding the ongoing crisis in Sudan. The ministry said in a statement that the decision came after IGAD invited Dagalo to attend.

A planned face-to-face meeting that was supposed to take place last month in Djibouti under the sponsorship of IGAD flopped as the RSF leader was meeting with Museveni at his country home in western Uganda in his maiden high-profile diplomatic drive since the war erupted.

Throughout his charm offensive, Dagalo switched from military fatigues to a three-piece business suit with a matching neck-tie in an attempt to present himself as a legitimate leader of Sudan on the international stage, irking Al Burhan, who maintains he is the authentic president of Sudan.

Scroll to Top