African leaders talk drought, pandemic, security

Nairobi, Jul 5 (EFE).- Heads of state and government of Africa’s eight-nation trade bloc IGAD addressed challenges resulting from the drought, Covid-19 and the security situation in the region at the 39th summit in Nairobi on Tuesday.

“We come together to address the challenges that are bigger than each of us individually, as well as grasp the opportunities that are of mutual benefit to us all,” IGAD executive secretary Workneh Gebeyehu said in his opening speech.

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta, Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, Uganda’s defense minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja and South Sudan’s vice president James Wani Igga were among those who took part in the summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The bloc discussed the humanitarian and economic crisis associated with the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and the pandemic, as well as the conflicts and the extremism threatening the security of the region.

Ethiopia’s government has been at war with the northern region of Tigray since November 2020, Somalia has been hit by a wave of attacks by the al-Shabab jihadist group while hundreds of people in Sudan are protesting against the October coup.

The drought, the worst in four decades and which has already left more than 18.4 million people severely hungry, is “further contributing to regional fragility and instability,” said Gebeyehu.

All participants congratulated Somalia’s new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on his victory in the May 15 elections.

The democratic and peaceful transfer of power is “further evidence of the positive transformation of our region,” Gebeyehu stressed.

Many bilateral meetings took place under the framework of the summit, including that between Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudanese coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“In my discussions with Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, we have both agreed that our two countries have plenty of collaborative elements to work on peacefully,” Abiy said in a Twitter post.

“Our common bonds surpass any divisions. We both made a commitment for dialogue & peaceful resolution to outstanding issues,” he added.EFE


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