Eritrean president pays first visit to Somalia

by Engidu Woldie

ESAT News (December 13, 2018)

One month after the United Nations lifted a nine year old sanction on Eritrea over an alleged support to Al-Shabba, its president, Isaias Afwerki paid the first visit to Somalia amid a high speed thawing of relations among countries in the region.

The countries in the Horn of Africa have seen fast rapprochements since Ethiopia and Eritrea ended two decades of enmity in July, a development that was initiated by Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who extended an olive branch to Eritrea and encouraged leaders of Somalia and Djibouti to come on board.

“The historic visit of President Isaias to Somalia is in continuation of the consultative summits between the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia,” said Eritrea’s Minister of Information in a tweet on Thursday.

Afwerki was welcomed at Mogadishu airport by the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed a.k.a. Farmaajo.

“It is a great honour to welcome President Isaias Afwerki to Mogadishu today on this historic visit. Somalia and Eritrea have a historic bond of friendship which we will transform into modern opportunities for our two brotherly peoples,” Farmaajo said in a tweet.

“Somalia and Eritrea share history underpinned by friendship, respect and partnership. Today marks a new era for our two nations’ bilateral relations,” Villa Somalia, the official twitter channel for President Farmajo’s office added.

Somalia and Eritrea revealed in July their intention to resume diplomatic relations, a move that immediately followed a signing of peace declaration between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Farmaajo paid his first visit to Eritrea in July, the first by a leader of Somalia since Eritrea declared its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

The UN had put Eritrea under a 9 year sanction over allegations that it provided support to Al-Shabaab, an allegation that a UN team of experts said there were no evidence to prove. The sanctions were lifted on the 14th of November, 2018.