IGAD seeks solution to challenges in Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden

Africa

DJIBOUTI - The Foreign Affairs Ministers of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan gathered in Djibouti for IGAD Ministerial meeting on 27th February 2019 under the chairmanship of Ethiopia, Garowe Online reports.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma skipped the summit due to 'urgent state matters' and a diplomatic spat with its neighboring Somalia over a maritime boundary dispute.

The 46th Ordinary Session of IGAD Council of Ministers focused on the geopolitical and security challenges that countries on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, including Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea are currently facing.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers released a joint communique that did not highlight the Kenya-Somalia standoff, Al-Shabaab threats to the region and the withdrawal of the African Union troops from the country.

- The IGAD statement -

The IGAD Council of Ministers held its 46th Ordinary Session on 27th February 2019 under the chairmanship of H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the IGAD Council.

The session was attended by H.E. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Djibouti; H.E. Ahmed Isse Awad, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia; H.E. Dr Al-Dirdiery Mohamed Ahmed, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Sudan; H.E. Hirut Zemene, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and H.E. Mohamed Ali Hassan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Djibouti.

H.E. Mahboub Maalim, IGAD Executive Secretary; H.E. Hadiza Mustapha, Special Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Ismael Wais, IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan and H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ali Guyo, IGAD Special Envoy for Somalia were also in attendance.

Representatives of the European Union, China, Egypt, France, Japan, Russia, Turkey, and the USA made statements during the open session.

After extensive deliberations on the geopolitical and security dynamics of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the Council:

1. Pays a glowing tribute to the Late Amb. Dr. Attalla Hamad Bashir, the former Executive Secretary of IGAD and recognizes his invaluable contribution to the organization;

2. Expresses gratitude to the People and Government of the Republic of Djibouti for their warm hospitality extended to the delegations;

3. Recalls the Communiqué of the 45thOrdinary Session of the IGADCouncil of Ministers held on 11th July 2012 in Addis Ababa, the Report of the 31st Session of IGAD Committee of Ambassadors held on 21st January 2017 in Addis Ababa and the Communiqué of the 66th Extra-ordinary session of IGAD Council of Ministers on Somalia and South Sudan held in Addis Ababa on 16th November 2018;

4. Underlines the importance of expediting the endorsement of the proposed treaty and structure to reform IGAD, and decided that there is the need for enriched and continued discussion on the organizational structure and treaty of IGAD until the next ordinary sessions of the policy organs;

5. Notes with appreciation the presentation made by the IGADSpecial Envoy for Somalia on the geopolitical and security dynamics of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and adopts the recommendations therein;

6. Acknowledges the threats, risks, and challenges of geopolitical dynamics of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to the Greater Horn of Africa;

7. Appreciates the enormous opportunities of the geographic-positioning of the region;

8. Further appreciates the strategic interests of littoral and the non-littoral IGAD Member States and the need to formulate shared norms, common goals and strategic coordination in this endeavor;

9. Recognizes the need for IGAD to take a leading role on the issue of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden;

10. Adopts a collective approach to challenges in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by strengthening regional cooperation, and establish a regional platform for the IGAD Member States with a view to promoting dialogue with other stakeholders including the AU and other international partners;

11. Agrees to harmonize and develop a common position to protect the security and economic interests of the region including maritime security, migration, fight against terrorism, prevention of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; pollution and dumping of the toxic waste in some parts of the waters of the IGAD region;

12. Further agrees to develop multi-disciplinary policy-oriented research and analysis on the matter;

13. Directs the IGAD Secretariat to establish a special task force of experts to study, review, and advice on the conclusions and recommendations made in the presentation and to urgently chart out a regional plan of action with a clear timeline;

14. Further directs the expansion of the responsibilities of the IGAD Special Envoy for Somalia to include the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, in coordination with the AU as may be appropriate; and

15. Decides to remain seized of the matters.