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Ethiopian Ambassador hails IGAD over regional stability

By: Moses Gum

The Ethiopian Ambassador to South Sudan Tefferi Taddese has commended role played by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in addressing the multifaceted challenges facing the region.

The top diplomat said his country managed to resolve very critical issues that led to regional stability, peace and security when it chaired the regional bloc. He emphasized that IGAD under Ethiopia’s leadership and in collaboration with all member countries has addressed a number of crucial peace and security matters in the region.

He made the comments days after Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement late December 2019, stating that IGAD resolved a number of crucial matters in peace and security, including re-establishment of a sovereign government in Somalia, reconciliation process between Ethiopia and Eritrea, lengthy negotiations between South Sudan’s Government and the opposition, and the Sudan peace deal.

 “When Ethiopia chaired the regional bloc, lengthy negotiations were made in Addis to bring South Sudan conflicting parties on board to sign peace agreement. IGAD through Ethiopia has unabatedly been urging the South Sudan parties to sign the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) in August 2015. When the 2016 TGONU collapsed, it again took another initiative to revitalize the agreement in 2018”, the Ambassador recounted.

He stressed that Ethiopia as a sister country to South Sudan could not be happy when it sees fighting continuing in the Africa’s youngest nation. Ambassador Taddese stated that since the two nations share common history, as well as common destiny they cannot afford to stand idly.

Therefore, he ascertained, “the Ethiopian government will always be ready to provide all the necessary support to ensure lasting peace in South Sudan and the region at large”. He further called on South Sudanese leaders to narrow their differences, open a new page and end the conflict in the country, urging them to speed up the implementation of pending tasks and form unity government in February.

Very recently in Sudan, he remembered, Ethiopia as the Chair of IGAD together with the AU has closely assisted the reconciliation and understanding of the Sudanese stakeholders after the fall of President Bashir. The negotiations finally culminated into the signing of the political and constitutional declaration and the formation of the Transitional Civilian Government on August 21, 2019, in response to the demand of Sudanese people were very exemplary.

In terms of international cooperation, the Ambassador noted, a long mutual cooperation of IGAD with the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and partners from far and wide, especially on peace and security matters, saying the move created regional understanding and support to fighting extremism and terrorism and bringing peace to major conflict hot spots such as in Somalia, South Sudan, the Ethio-Eritrea and the normalization of situation in the Sudan after the fall of President Bashir.

The senior diplomat underscored the need for wider collaboration in order to tackle key challenges such as extreme poverty, governance troubles, corruption, organized criminal activities, and proliferation of small and light weapons. In this regard, he mentioned the newly introduced mechanism-the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden known as the IGAD Task Force on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. This framework, which is endorsed in 2018, is aimed at forging a common position and developing a comprehensive regional plan of action through a knowledge-led, policy-oriented research. He claimed that the framework will be instrumental in enhancing the cooperation between the Horn and the Gulf Region.

The Ambassador further highlights IGAD’s decade old efforts in the Socio-economic front. He said, IGAD has designed important programs that aim at improving the lives of the people of the region and particularly in the area of health, climate resilience and economic integration. Regarding some activities on the environment, IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI), the IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme, the Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP), the Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DRSLP) and the IGAD Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Policy Framework can be cited as the notable achievements. IGAD is making laudable progress in socio-economic area, albeit rather slowly. He indicated that members need to exert much effort to enhance the regional integration agenda by synchronizing their policies and projects.

Finally, he appreciated the Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiye Ahmed for his tremendous efforts and determinations to bring durable peace and tranquility in the region often regarded as one of the most turbulent in the world. Ethiopia chaired IGAD for nearly 10 years and had just handed over leadership to Sudan on 29th November 2019 during the 13th Ordinary Summit of the IGAD held in Addis Ababa. IGAD was formed in 1986 as an organization that merely focuses on draught and disaster and is now dealing with regional peace and development matters.

IGAD is now one of the eight recognized building blocs of the AU. Reflecting on some of Ethiopia’s achievements and the challenges observed in the functioning of IGAD during Ethiopia’s decade-long leadership would serve as a spring board in shaping the future activities of the organization under the leadership of Sudan or other countries that would assume the chairmanship in the future.

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