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Farmajo visits Eritrea as Afwerki calls for more support to Somalia

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

ASMARA, Eritrea - Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on Friday returned to Eritrea after eight months, in a two-day official visit, Yemane Meskel, Eritrean Information Minister said.

The Somalia President arrived at Asmara mid-morning after which he held bilateral talks with his host Isaias Afwerki, the top official added.

Friday's trip to Asmara by Somalia President comes amid ongoing efforts to revamp the dwindling economy of the Horn of Africa nation.

Bilateral discussions in Asmara

The two leaders, the official said, "noted that the multi-faceted Eritrea-Somalia bilateral ties have progressed at a remarkable pace".

Eritrea and Somalia signed a bilateral agreement of friendship and cooperation in Asmara two years ago. The agreement has improved trade ties, he said.

Previously, the two nations had been subjected to frosty relationship over suspicions on support for Al-Shabaab militants.

Mogadishu had repeatedly accused Eritrea of supplying arms to Al-Shabaab, a claim which Asmara periodically dismissed.

Implementation of Tripartite agreement

At Asmara, the Eritrean official said, implementation of Tripartite agreement signed between the two nations along with Ethiopia was discussed.

The two Presidents, Meskel said, "expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far in the implementation of the agreement".

Both nations had agreed to step up their collective efforts for the consolidation of tripartite cooperation and regional integration.

Despite an unpredictable relationship, Eritrea has often backed Somalia. In 2007, Asmara withdrew from IGAD after Ethiopia deployed troops to Somalia.

Somalia internal affairs

On Somalia, both leaders noted positive achievements registered so far and underlined imperative of exerting more efforts to bolster key institutions, he said.

"Key among them was security and defense, rehabilitation of the economy and infrastructure. Both countries will pool resources to that end," he noted.

Somalia's economy has been on the brink of collapse, accumulating huge debts over the years which have been flagged by the World Bank and IMF.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Ali Hassan has been pushing to have debt amounting to $4.8 billion written off by the international community.

Insecurity in Somalia

Fundamentally, the Mogadishu administration has struggled to contain the Al-Shabaab threat, with the group increasing deadly attacks in the country.

On December 28, Al-Shabaab took responsibility for a car bomb attack that leftover 90 people dead and hundreds critically injured.

Presidents Afwerki and Farmajo, he added, "urged all friends and partners of Somalia to extend substantive support to the administration."

The support, the two said, would "bolster the institutions and national capabilities of the country on the basis of the priorities set by Somalis themselves."

Previous historical visits

Farmajo first visited Eritrea in July 2018 where he cemented a relationship with Asmara. The two countries opened diplomatic missions afterward.

In December same year, Afwerki visited Mogadishu "as part and parcel of the consultative Tripartite Summits of the Heads of State and Government of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia,"

Farmajo is expected to end his official visit on Saturday. He's accompanied by several government officials and a number of legislators.

His trip comes amid Eritrea's efforts to restore its cooperation with countries at the Horn of Africa. Asmara reconciled with Ethiopia recently.


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