From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jul 28 2011 - 14:20:36 EDT
rejoins East African bloc IGAD
Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:35pm GMT
* Asmara suspended membership in 2007
* IGAD has called for more sanctions on Eritrea
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, July 28 (Reuters) - Eritrea has rejoined East African bloc
IGAD, four years after it walked out on the body in protest at Ethiopian
forces entering Somalia, according to a letter obtained by Reuters.
Analysts say Asmara's withdrawal from the Inter-Governmental Authority for
Development (IGAD) was the first sign of deteriorating relations between the
Red Sea state and regional countries over Somalia, where the Al Qaeda-linked
al Shabaab group is battling to overthrow a U.N.-backed government.
IGAD member states can suspend and reactivate their membership. Eritrea is
the only country to ever do so.
"I have the honour to inform you and through you the member states of IGAD
that the State of Eritrea has decided to reactivate its membership in IGAD
with immediate effect," said a letter from Foreign Minister Osman Saleh sent
to Mahboub Maalim, the body's executive secretary.
A report from the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia obtained by Reuters on
Thursday accused Eritrea of plotting to attack an African Union summit in
Ethiopia in January, and of bankrolling rebels in Somalia through its
embassy in Kenya.
The U.N. has slapped an arms embargo on Eritrea, as well as a travel ban and
an asset freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders who it says are
violating an arms embargo on Somalia.
IGAD has also called for sanctions on Eritrea's fledgling mining sector as
well as remittances it receives from its diaspora, citing its alleged
support of al Shabaab.
Asmara denies the charges, and accuses the United States and neighbouring
Ethiopia of "irresponsible interference". Addis Ababa entered Somalia in
2006 -- with tacit U.S. support -- and ousted an Islamist group who taken
over the capital and parts of the country.
Eritrea said it was "determined" to contribute to regional peace, and cited
recent developments such as the independence of South Sudan and the need for
a coordinated effort to tackle a regional humanitarian crisis for its
IGAD is made up of Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and now
Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until 1993, the culmination of a brutal 30-year
war for independence.
Diplomats say past IGAD meetings have been a forum for the festering feud
between the two countries, who are still bitter over their 1998-2000 border
conflict and locked in what many see as a proxy war in Somalia. (Editing by
Barry Malone and Sophie Hares)
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