A Week in the Horn (21/04/2017)

A Week in the Horn                                 20.4.2017
News in Brief
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh meets Egypt's Foreign Minister Shoukry in Cairo 
Ethiopia remains committed to engage with Eritrea for lasting peace
Eritrea's YPFDJ congress banned in the Netherlands
EHRC presents the results of its investigations into last year's unrest
Ethiopia encouraging Ethiopian citizens in Saudi Arabia to use the amnesty 
Ethiopia's infrastructure investment attracts Chinese investors.
The sixth Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa being held this weekend
President Kagame of Rwanda on a State visit to Djibouti 
President Kiir's Easter appeal for peace in South Sudan 
Somali Federal and State Leaders agree on new national security architecture

News in brief

Africa and the African Union

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Wednesday (April 19) signed a new framework agreement to strengthen partnership between the UN and the AU on peace and security pillars and better respond to the evolving challenges of peace operations. The Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security is expected to boost coordination between the two organizations at every level as well as strengthen cooperation on issues ranging from human rights and good governance, to sustainable and inclusive development. It will also help align the African Union's Agenda 2063 with the Global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The fifteenth edition of Africa's Pulse, a biannual analysis of African economies from the World Bank, says Sub-Saharan Africa experienced a slowdown in investment growth from nearly 8% in 2014 to 0.6% in 2015. It identifies Ethiopia, along with Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tanzania, as exhibiting economic resilience, supported by domestic demand. It expects Africa's aggregate growth to rise to 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, reflecting a recovery in the largest economies of Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola. It anticipates GDP growth in countries whose economies depend less on extractive commodities, especially Ethiopia, Senegal, and Tanzania, to remain robust. The report calls for urgent reforms to improve private sector growth, develop local capital markets, improve infrastructure, and strengthen domestic resource mobilization.

The UN Security Council held a debate on Thursday last week (April 13) when the Chair of the Security Council Committee for the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea briefed the Council on the recent activities of the SEMG, and discussed the Security Council sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea. (See article)

Danish Development Minister, Ulla Tørnæs, has set aside 125 million kroner (US$18 million) to help fund six Danish aid organizations operating in the Horn of Africa. These funds will help alleviate the problems of South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen where, the Minister said, "the harvests have failed due to drought, and because of conflict. The number of undernourished people is growing and the nations face a hunger epidemic." 47million kroner will go South Sudan, 23 million to Somalia and 55 million to Yemen. Last month, Denmark pledged 300 million kroner (US$43 million) in aid relief to help alleviate hunger in East Africa and Yemen.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam met with the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission of South Sudan, Festus Mogae, on Thursday (April 20). Mr. Mogae briefed the Prime Minister, who is Chairman of IGAD, on the current situation in South Sudan expressing his concern over the humanitarian situation and the continued violence. They agreed on the necessity of implementing the Peace Agreement and the importance of humanitarian corridors.

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu met with a Canadian delegation led by Ian Shugert, Deputy Minister of Global Affairs of Canada on Thursday (April 20). Dr. Workneh underlined that Ethiopia and Canada have a long period of diplomatic relationship and a strong level of cooperation on development programs. He said the Government of Ethiopia is keen to further strengthen the engagements in the economic sector and other priority areas of interest for both countries. 

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh on Friday (April 21) met with an Israeli delegation led by Ayoob Kara, Minister of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, wherein both sides reiterated the need to build on the already strong bilateral relationship. 

Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu on a one-day visit to Cairo on Wednesday (April 19) met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and held talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.(See article) 

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene and Spain's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ildefonso Castro met on Tuesday (April 18) and agreed to maintain close political consultations aiming at moving the Ethio-Spanish ties forward. State Minister Hirut said Ethiopia appreciated the existing close international coordination and cooperation between the two countries. State Secretary Castro defined Ethio-Spanish relationship as excellent and stressed the need to make political consultations on a regular basis.  

State Minister Mrs. Hirut Zemene, held talks on Wednesday (April 19) with a German delegation headed by Mr. Gunter Nooke, the German Chancellor's Personal Representative for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the BMZ's Commissioner for Africa. They exchanged views on regional and global issues of common concern and noted high-level exchanges placed creativity and innovations at the center of their cooperation partnership.

State Minister Mrs. Hirut Zemene met with representatives of the Italian "Comunita Di Sant'Egidio" and "Caritas Italiana" charity groups and explored areas of cooperation on migration and refugee management. Dr. Giancarlo Penza, head of the delegation, who praised Ethiopia's open-door policy for refugees, said their current project focused on security of the refugees, the people who welcome them, and vulnerable people along the route. 

Ethiopia welcomed the statement of the European Union High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini, that the EU was ready to support the settlement of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea and any "measures that will create conditions for a mutually beneficial relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the future." (See article)

The Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher presented the Commission's report of the results of investigation into last year's unrest in Oromia, Amhara and SNNP Regional States to the House of People's Representatives on Tuesday (April 18). The House endorsed the report on Thursday. (See article)

The Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa is being held in Bahr Dar this weekend (April 22-23. The Tana Forum is an annual independent platform to discuss issues of peace and security in Africa, bringing together key African leaders, policymakers, influential figures in government and non-government stakeholders in a relaxed setting to initiate dialogue and come up with African-led security solutions for African problems. (See article)

The government is continuing its efforts to ensure the safe return of all Ethiopia citizens from Saudi Arabia in advance of the ending of the 90 day amnesty for illegal entrants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (See article) 

The Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador La Yifan, in an interview at the weekend, underlined the importance of African countries being ready to receive Chinese manufacturing companies. Ethiopia, he said, was one of the safest countries in Africa and he strongly encouraged Chinese industries to come to Ethiopia. (See article)

UK's Minister for International Development James Wharton on a visit to Ethiopia last week underlined the UK's commitment to help those suffering from drought. He visited Tigray Regional State and the Endabaguna reception centre for refugees from Eritrea. Minister Wharton said UK aid was helping to boost economic development and private sector investment to create jobs and increase stability, and the UK was strengthening its focus on economic development as a long term solution to poverty.

The government of Japan has provided over four million birr to support the activities of the Ethiopian Peace Support Training Center, to help provide for the development of curriculum on conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict recovery courses. Japan's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Shinichi Saida praised Ethiopia's contribution to peacekeeping operations and described it as "the pivot of the peace and security in the Horn of Africa. 

Djibouti 

President Paul Kagame accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame was welcomed by President Ismail Omar Guelleh on arrival in Djibouti for a two-day State visit on Tuesday (April 18). The two leaders signed a number of agreements to strengthen bilateral ties and stressed the partnership between Rwanda and Djibouti was aimed at encouraging collaboration across the continent. (See article)

Two memorandums of understanding and a bilateral agreement were signed on the sidelines of a Saudi-Djibouti business forum in Djibouti this week. The Saudi delegation, which included representatives of several governmental bodies and businesses, was led by Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister, Majid Al-Qassabi.

Eritrea

Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Advisor Yemane Gebreab have been on an official visit to China this week (April 17 to 22), at the invitation of China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The 13th Congress of the Young People's Front for Democracy and Justice (YPFDJ), the youth wing of the ruling PFDJ party, planned to be held at the end of last week in Veldhoven in the Netherlands was cancelled after demonstrators protested against it. (See article) 

A two-week capacity-building workshop opened by the Commissioner of Culture and Sports, Ambassador Zemede Tecle, ended on Tuesday (April 18) in Asmara. It was part of the project for "Strengthening the capacities of Eritrea for implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage", financed by the Government of Norway. Participants included District Officers and community representatives from all Eritrea's nine ethno-linguistic groups.

Kenya 

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a travel alert for Kenya on Wednesday last week (April 12) warning UK citizens against all but essential travel to six areas in the country because of the "political primary elections scheduled to take place from 13 to 26 April 2017." The Presidential, parliamentary, county and local elections are scheduled for 8 August but the political parties are holding their party primaries between April 13 and 26. 

Somalia 

The National Leadership Forum meeting at the weekend approved the new national security architecture. It agreed on a unified structure, policies and implementation to be spearheaded by a National Security Council, to be chaired by President Mohamed Abdullahi. State level security councils will be headed by the state presidents. (See article) 

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre, after meeting Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a leader, Sheikh Shaakir, reiterated the government's commitment to the success of the talks between the Galmudug authorities and Ahlu Sunna. To help bring the talks to a successful conclusion, the Prime Minister has appointed a ministerial committee to be led by Foreign Minister, Yusuf Garaad and Interior Minister, Abdi Farah Juha, to assist the two parties in reaching agreement.  

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre held a meeting with senior military commanders from AMISOM and the Somali National Army on Monday (April 17) to review the current military operations, the effectiveness of ground troops and strategy. The focus was on ways to enable SNA and AMISOM forces to recapture the remaining territories under the control of Al-Shabaab. 

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has announced a contribution of US$89.8 million to implement development projects and programs in key sectors in Somalia, particularly infrastructure and transport. The contribution aims to help Somalia overcome the economic challenges it faces through financing sustainable projects which in turn will promote socio-economic well being, improved living standards, long-term growth and prosperity

Save the Children said on Thursday this week (April 20) that a new study had found an alarming increase in severe malnutrition among children, with "very critical" levels of severe malnutrition in the districts of Badhan and Adado in Somaliland. SCF said less than 10% percent of children in Somalia were currently registered in a nutrition program, and the study warned that children could start dying "in the near future" unless immediate action is taken, including a major and rapid scaling up of nutrition outreach services. 

The National Humanitarian Coordination Centre was opened in Mogadishu on Wednesday (April 19) to serve as the nerve center for coordinating humanitarian and emergency efforts. Humanitarian and Disaster Management Minister, Dr. Maryan Qassim, said  it would play a critical role in coordinating all humanitarian efforts by state and non- state actors and also provide an information exchange hub. It will harmonize response efforts and develop a more coherent approach in ensuring needed support is effectively delivered.

The Senate, this week, elected five members to serve on the Senate Constitutional Review Committee. Together with representatives from the House of the People, the full committee will steer the constitutional review process in collaboration with the Independent Constitutional Review Commission. The Senate has already pointed out a number of areas in the 2012 Provisional Constitution that require public consultation and clarification, including the division of powers and responsibilities between the Federal and State governments, ambiguity in the legislative process between the Lower House and the Senate,  and membership of former presidents in the federal parliament. 

South Sudan 

President Salva Kiir repeated his call for peace last week on Good Friday (April 14). He said the nation belonged to all ethnic groups and he urged all South Sudanese to accept one another, to embrace peace, to forgive, reconcile and live peacefully. He reiterated his government's determination to bring lasting peace to the country. (See article)

Sudan 

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday (April 19) for a bilateral meeting of the joint Sudanese-Egyptian Political Consultation Committee. The committee is a sub-committee of the Egyptian-Sudanese High Committee. The two sides agreed to work together to ease tensions. Talks covered control of hostile media campaigns, curbing the activity of Darfur holdout rebel groups in Cairo, the ban on fruit and vegetable imports from Egypt, and claims by the Sudanese government that Cairo supported sanctions on Sudan.

Sudan and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development signed a $ 200 million loan agreement to build a 350-megawatt power station in the suburb of Al-Baquir, south of Khartoum on Tuesday (April 18). This will generate 350 MW of electricity.

The annual investment report for 2016 says that investment flows last year reached US$4.1 billion. 2604 investment projects were licensed in the agricultural (668), industrial (811) and services (993) sectors in 2016. The report says 46,765 job opportunities will be created from these projects and that the investment share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by US$3.2 billion in these sectors.

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Foreign Minister Dr Workneh meets Egypt's Foreign Minister Shoukry in Cairo 

Ethiopia is determined to expand bilateral relations with Egypt, Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu emphasized on Wednesday (April 19) during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Dr. Workneh, who was on a one-day official visit to Cairo to discuss ways of enhancing relations between the two countries, held talks with Mr. Shoukry and met earlier with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. The President, who described the Ethio-Egyptian relationship as an important one that should be further improved, noted that Egypt does not interfere in or conspire against domestic affairs of other nations.

At the joint press conference, Dr. Workneh thanked the people and the government of Egypt for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to his delegation and took the opportunity to express deepest sympathies of the government and the people of Ethiopia to the people of Egypt over the loss of innocent lives following the recent terror attacks on Egyptian Coptic churches. He said Ethiopia and Egypt are two nations with a long history and unique civilization, adding that the two countries are bound together through the longest river Nile. Noting that the relationship between the two countries has been improving over the last three years, Dr. Workneh emphasized on the need to hold regular consultations and exchanges of visits

He said he came to deliver a message to Egyptians that his country was not seeking to cause suffering to the Egyptian people. "We will not harm the Egyptian people", he said, "but they should also help us in making use of our natural resources," in reference to the Grand Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD). Dr Workneh described both nations as connected "throughout history and the Nile River," adding "I am here today to assure the Egyptian people that we must work together to accomplish our goals." Dr. Workneh told his Egyptian counterpart that his visit convoyed the message of fraternity, solidarity and cooperation, one based on mutual trust and interest between the peoples of Ethiopia and Egypt. Underlining that the people and the Government of Ethiopia are committed to further deepen the historical ties, Dr. Workneh noted Ethiopia wouldn't harm the interest of Egypt. 

Dr. Workneh, addressing Shoukry as his ‘brother', said they had very useful discussions on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, talking in a spirit of brotherhood, mutual understanding and cooperation. They had highlighted the importance of enhancing the bilateral relationship and capitalizing the understanding reached between our two leaders at their meeting in Addis Ababa during the Africa Union Summit in January. Other issues had included countering and defeating terrorism in all its form and the importance of working with other member countries to ensure global collective security and promote multilateralism in the UN Security Council and elsewhere. Dr. Workneh emphasized that Ethiopia was fully committed to enhance the current positive momentum in Ethiopia-Egypt bilateral relations. He said "We want to strengthen this further by continuing to build trust and confidence between our brotherly peoples.  In that spirit, let me say that Prime Minister Hailemariam will pay a visit to Egypt soon. I am confident that this will further widen and deepen the scope of our relationship."   

Dr. Workneh said that he discussed bilateral relations with the Egyptian president and foreign minister "honestly," and Mr. Shoukry said their discussions were characterized by a "keenness [to boost] the relationship, with further dialogue on the necessity of maintaining it." Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry described the talks as "transparent and honest," which he said was vital for Egypt and Ethiopia to promote the best interests of the peoples of both nations. He called for further dialogue on the necessity of maintaining the relationship. He expressed Egypt's desire to further strengthen its ties with Ethiopia in investment, trade other sectors of engagement. The Egyptian foreign minister noted that officials from Egypt and Ethiopia would now be meeting and holding talks every two months to work on improving relations. He also noted that President El-Sisi expected that Prime Minister Hailemariam would soon come to Cairo for a meeting of the two countries' Joint High-Level Committee meeting. 

Meanwhile at a press conference in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Hailemariam said Cairo had begun taking measures against the Egyptian-based institutions that had been active in the violence that had occurred in Ethiopia last year. This followed consultations held between leaders of the two countries. Prime Minister Hailemariam, who was giving a press conference for local journalists, said Ethiopia's foreign policy focused on relations built on mutual respect and benefit and, he underlined, "our relations with Egypt are no different from this." Both countries, he said, had agreed not to harm each other's interest, and now, the government of Egypt was taking measures against institutions which had been playing an active role in the recent unrest in Ethiopia. 

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Ethiopia remains committed to engage with Eritrea for lasting peace

The European Union High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini, said last week that the EU was ready to support the settlement of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In a press statement, issued on April 13, she said: "The EU encourages all concrete steps that could lead to finally demarcating the border in accordance with the EEBC decision and to move to a phase of building constructive and peaceful relations… the EU stands ready to support the process and any measures that will create conditions for a mutually beneficial relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the future."

Ethiopia welcomes this commitment of the European Union to support full implementation of the provisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's Decisions of April 13, 2002.  Ethiopia had repeatedly reiterated its readiness for peace and called time and again for dialogue to restore ties and normalize relations with Eritrea. The regime in Asmara has shown no sign of interest either in these efforts or in a number of initiatives by different countries and eminent personalities. All have, regrettably fallen on deaf ears. 

Ethiopia, despite the serious flaws in the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's Decisions, fully accepted the Decisions as final and binding. By contrast, Eritrea, after much interference in the activities of the UN Peacekeeping forces of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), finally restricted the Mission's fuel supplies in January 2008, seized much of the Mission's equipment and finally ordered the troops to leave Eritrea a month later. This erratic behavior in direct violation of the Algiers Agreement, rendering it null and void, was enough reason for Ethiopia to invoke the comprehensive peace agreement and binding arbitration that the two parties agreed to on June 18, 2000. However, Ethiopia determined to honor the commitment of the parties to the peace process, still appeals to the full implementation of the Algiers agreement. Ethiopia, the victim of Eritrean aggression in 1998 wants dialogue and engagement to implement the EEBC decision. This is the minimum the victim of aggression can expect; this is minimum the aggressor, Eritrea, should provide and without preconditions. 

In fact, the need for dialogue is written into the Ethiopian-Eritrean Boundary Commission's decisions. The Commission, for example, clearly indicated under Article 2.16 of its decision that "these coordinates are not necessarily final and the commission may have to adjust or vary them in the course of demarcation. Only the final demarcation map will be definitive". This demonstrates clearly that the coordinates used for the "virtual demarcation" that the EEBC issued in November 2006, could not be final. Article 2.19 stated that "the tripoint at the eastern end has never been agreed" by the parties; Article 2.20 of the decision informed the international community that, the boundaries laid down in the Treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908 of the West, Central and Eastern borders respectively) had never been implemented by demarcation. These points alone underlined the necessity for dialogue on demarcation irrespective of the need for discussions on other issues. . 

Article 16 of the Algiers Agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea forecast that "Recognizing that the results of the delimitation and demarcation process are not yet known, the parties request the United Nations to facilitate resolution of problems which may arise due to the transfer of territorial control, including the consequences for individuals residing in previously disputed territory". The border issues cannot, of course, be reduced to demarcation alone. Far more important is the question of long-lasting peace and stability among and between the peoples on both sides of the border. The anomalies and impracticalities of the virtual delimitation of the EEBC can only be resolved through dialogue. This is normal international practice. Others including Cameroon and Nigeria, and Russia and China, have shown that final border demarcation should come after normalization. This is a prerequisite for a sustainable relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and for lasting peace in the region. 

Ethiopia prepared all the legal and administrative procedures for the independence of Eritrea.  Ethiopia was the first country to recognize the legitimacy of the new State of Eritrea. It never had a plausible reason to get into a quarrel over a small piece of land in the border area. Ethiopia's concerns have always been the lasting relationship between the two peoples. Ethiopia does not believe making the Eritrean people hostage in the name of ‘border conflict' should be allowed to benefit the Eritrean Regime. The Eritrean Government's continual refusal to come to the negotiating table and the resultant ‘no war no peace' situation between the two countries, has created unbearable conditions for the Eritrean people. There are more than 170 thousand Eritreans sheltering in refugee camps in Ethiopia. Eritrea is ranked 3rd in the list of countries from which refugees enter Europe, after Syria and Afghanistan, both war-torn countries. Eritrea has no such excuse. 

This situation has continued for far too long. Ethiopia appreciates the expressed support from the EU and other partners for normalization of its relations with Eritrea, but it feels that it is now high time to push the regime in Asmara to come to the negotiating table. 

Asmara, while continuing to show no interest to making peace with its neighbors, has recently started to implement a two-pronged approach in its foreign policy: aiming to ease the sanctions' regime and win international sympathy. It has been trying to convince the international community that it has changed its behavior and that it is being unfairly penalized by the UN Security Council and the major powers. It has argued that the sanctions are unfair particularly against a very poor and small country like Eritrea. This is intended to persuade the Security Council to moderate the sanctions without having to make any substantive move to address the concerns of the sub-region and the reasons for the imposition of sanctions in the first place. The semi-implementation of the sanctions couples with the severe economic situation in Eritrea, and perhaps reduced the capacity of the regime to destabilize the Horn Africa. It has not affected its intention to continue to do so. 

Eritrea, in fact, has made no behavioral changes in its approach to its neighbors. The regime has continued to destabilize countries of the region, providing financial, military, intelligence and non- military assistance, including at various times the provision of training centers, camps and other similar facilities for armed groups such as Al-Shabaab and Arbegnoch Ginbot 7, as well as issuing travel documents, offering living expenses and travel facilities in a discrete manner. If a lasting peace and stability is to come about in the Horn of African, partner countries must push the regime in Asmara to show a real change, including the dismantling of training camps and ending financial and other logistical support. Eritrea must, in fact, refrain from destabilizing the region by supporting armed groups such as Al-Shabaab and Arbegnoch G7. 

Last week, the UN Security Council discussed the Somalia Eritrea Sanctions Committee report. The Chair of the Security Council Committee, Kazakhstan, has presented its report covering the period from November 2016 to February 2017 to the Council.

Ambassador Kirat Umarov's briefing focused on the activities of the Committee and on the assessment of recent developments based on the latest reports of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group. On Somalia, the chair underlined that AI-Shabaab remains the most significant threat to peace and security in Somalia while ISIL continues to maintain a presence in port town of Qandala mountainside. In light of the on-going drought, the chair noted that uncontrolled humanitarian assistance can result in additional threats to the peace, security and stability of Somalia. He told council members about the threat to peace and security posed by the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country.

Turning to Eritrea, the report indicated that the monitoring Group is conducting ongoing investigations on the support by Eritrea to armed groups in the region as well as on the potential breaches of the arms embargo. The chair also highlighted that the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) continues to seek clarification on the whereabouts and the situation of the remaining combatants missing in action since the Djibouti/Eritrea border clashes of 2008.

Following the chair's presentation, Council members discussed on the report, and in their remarks alluded Al-Shabaab as the biggest threat to peace and security in the region. While Council members took note of the SEMG's report that there was no conclusive evidence of Eritrean support to Al-Shabaab in the last consecutive reports, they underlined the need for Eritrea to cooperate with the SEMG in such score, and urged the Government of Eritrea to comply with its international obligation, including compliance with the Chapter VII resolutions of the Security Council.

Noting that the report is useful and very well balanced and stressing the significance of the Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions regime for regional peace and security in the horn of Africa, Ambassador Tekeda emphasized on the importance of the full and effective implementation of the sanction. "It is in this context that we appreciate the Committee for holding the briefing session with representatives of IGAD on transnational terrorist threats in the region," he added. As such briefings have a lot of relevance to the work of the Committee he encouraged the Chair of the Sanction Committee to continue this good practice, in line with its mandate, and create a better understanding of the challenges and threats facing the region. 

Although Al-Shabab's conventional capabilities have been significantly weakened, the Ambassador said the group remains to be a potent force capable of launching asymmetrical attacks. He also noted the possibility of the group to forge links with ISIL/Daesh and expressed his concern on the enormous implications it would pose on the peace and stability of the region. He said, this certainly entailed the need to establish a close follow up into its activities. Welcoming the appointment of the new members of the Monitoring Group, the Ambassador expressed Ethiopia's readiness to cooperate with the Group, mindful of the importance of cooperation in the pursuit of gathering relevant and quality of information from countries of the region and beyond. He also reiterated the importance of the cooperation of both Somalia and Eritrea as well as countries of the region in facilitating the work of the Monitoring Group and indeed the Sanctions Committee.  
  
"In light of reports of possible violations of the arms embargo, in particular," Ambassador Tekeda added, "we will wait the Monitoring Group to inform us of the outcome of its investigation in its mid-term report." In such light, he stressed on the importance of forging the necessary horizontal cooperation with other Panel of Experts in the process of investigating reports of possible violations.

While appreciating the willingness on the part of the Federal and regional governments in Somalia to cooperate with the Monitoring Group, Ambassador Tekeda urged the "Eritrean government to render the necessary cooperation to the Monitoring Group and the Sanctions Committee based on its obligations in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions." In this regard, he noted the Monitoring Group's call on Eritrea to clarify "the situation of the remaining soldiers identified by Djibouti as still missing in action as a result of the conflict in June 2008 in line with its treaty obligations and as directed by this Council."
Ambassador Tekeda, took note of the intention of the Chair to undertake a visit to the region, adding that while this was long overdue it would certainly add up to a better appreciation of the regional dynamics. He expressed his hope that the visit would take place in accordance with existing practices and made it clear that "putting preconditions on the visit to enlist concessions from the Council should by no means be entertained as it sets a dangerous precedent." He
Said, "Among other things, it would allow him to appreciate the existing hubris ad arrogance that has been so much a problem in our region, but behind a veneer of victimhood, which can deceive many. That is the context within which the issue of the boundary demarcation should be looked at since seen with other matters it very much pales by comparison, for limitation having been completed what remains is demarcation regarding which Ethiopia cannot be expected to clap with one hand."

While expressing his confidence on the Chair, the Ambassador however said, "given the geopolitical situation in our region this matter as well as the issue of sanctions can easily be politicized." He further said he would not feel that the link between Eritrea and Al-Shabaab has conclusively been proven to be non-existent, adding: "given the mortal danger, Al-Shabaab represents, this is not a joke; [and] it is a serious matter."  

Permanent Representative of Djibouti, Ambassador Mohamed Siad Doualeh, also shared the Chair's assessment that Al-Shabab continues to pose a serious threat to the peace and security in Somalia, calling for the surge in troops as well as logistical support to "decisively degrade and defeat Al-Shabab." Eritrea, he said, has deliberately continued to obstruct the work of the Monitoring Group, noting that: "Eritrea cynically seeks to be rewarded for its defiance of Security Council's resolutions." The Ambassador also told the Council that his country had already shared the SEMG, a credible and verifiable evidence, which he said showcased Eritrea's continued support to Al-Shabab, and thus called on the Monitoring Group to make the necessary investigations. He also urged Eritrea to clarify the situation of the unaccounted thirteen remaining Djibouti Prisoners of War, and to implement, in good faith, the peace agreement mediated by Qatar. The Ambassador further said Eritrea has continued to harbor, train, equip and provide logistical support to armed groups seeking to overthrow and destabilize the Government of Djibouti, in violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter.


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Ethiopia encouraging Ethiopian citizens in Saudi Arabia to use the amnesty 

The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a new proclamation last month (March 19) regarding the status of undocumented foreign workers in the Kingdom. It offered unregistered foreign workers and others a 90-day amnesty to leave the country without any detention, fines, or any other penalties, The amnesty started from March 29 and covered Umrah and Haj over-stayers, pilgrims without Haj permit, residents with expired Iqama (resident permit), workers with a work permit but no Iqama identification card, runway workers and individuals who had crossed the Saudi borders illegally. 

The government of Ethiopia, which has protection of the lives of Ethiopian nationals abroad high on its foreign affairs and national security agenda, quickly demonstrated its commitment and will to explore all possible ways and means for the speedy and safe return of Ethiopians to their country. Ethiopian diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia immediately called on all undocumented Ethiopian citizens residing in Saudi Arabia to return home. They made it clear they would provide travel documents for Ethiopians working in the Kingdom illegally so they could make use of the general amnesty period and quickly return home.

The government tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to head and coordinate the facilitation process for a swift and safe return of all Ethiopians residing illegally in the Kingdom. The Ministry promptly outlined a general plan for the success of the operation, laid out a structural institutional framework and made arrangements aimed to help undocumented Ethiopians make full use of the amnesty. Central to this process has been the necessary synchronization between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government organs and stakeholders, including Diaspora associations and communities, to make this operation a complete success.  

Following on the bold commitment and directions of the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with its diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, has been working to find all possible ways for the speedy and safe return of Ethiopian citizens. The Ministry set up a Command Post headed by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael, to coordinate efforts and implement operations enabling undocumented nationals to leave Saudi Arabia within the grace period. As part of the efforts to facilitate this, Dr. Aklilu headed a delegation on a four-day visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last week. The delegation held talks with high-level officials of the Saudi Arabian government on ways and means to help undocumented Ethiopian nationals safely return home without any trouble within the three-month grace period. 

The State Minister met with Ambassador Tamim bin Majid al-Dossari, the Saudi Arabian Undersecretary for Consular Affairs, to discuss ways to ensure the safe return of Ethiopians to their country. The two sides agreed to work together with greater care and careful attention to jointly solve the challenges facing these undocumented Ethiopian nationals in their return to their country and other issues related to their repatriation and registration processes. An important development from the discussions has been the agreement for the establishment of mobile consular offices which will allow consular access to Ethiopian citizens living outside the reach of the Ethiopian Consulate Office of Jeddah and Ethiopian Embassy of Riyadh. This will allow such people to access the exit visas and any other travel documents required for their departure from the Kingdom.

During his visit, the State Minister also held discussions with representatives of Ethiopian community associations as well as religious and community leaders. He underlined the government's commitment and aim to help facilitate the return of all undocumented Ethiopian nationals. The representatives of Ethiopian community associations as well as religious and community leaders welcomed the government's commitment and the ongoing activities following the new decree issued by the Saudi Arabian government. They expressed their satisfaction over the setting up of a Command Post in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle the matter with greater care and serious attention. Representatives of the Ethiopian community associations raised issues that required immediate response and answers on the part of the government. They agreed the Ethiopian community and development associations as well as other Diaspora members were ready to complement the government's efforts and support its activities to facilitate the return of all undocumented Ethiopian workers. They would always extend a helping hand to their fellow citizens faced with difficulties in their effort to return home within the three-month period.  

During their stay, the delegation members also helped ongoing efforts of the Ethiopian Embassy in Riyadh to provide services to Ethiopian citizens. They witnessed the support given by the staff to overseas Ethiopians at the immigration and exit visa coordination center in Riyadh. They also discussed with the officials and the staff of the Ethiopian Embassy in Riyadh and Ethiopian Consulate Office in Jeddah the provision of travel documents and other challenges facing their operation.

Following the Ministry's discussions with Ethiopian community associations in Riyadh and Jeddah and its assessment of the situation of Ethiopian citizens living illegally in the Kingdom, the government has now granted duty-free privileges to returning citizens. According to this scheme, returning citizens can bring home twenty-one types of personal properties, including washing machines, gas stoves, televisions, computers and printers duty-free. The scheme aims to provide another encouragement to people to take advantage of the 90-day amnesty. Illegal immigrants who failed to take advantage of the 90-day amnesty period will face deportation. 

The Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meles Alem, speaking to journalist at the monthly press briefing last week underlined the importance of the agreement reached by the two governments to use mobile offices to facilitate the issuance of exit visas. He also took the opportunity to emphasize the need for the media to help provide accurate and timely information and for the public to urgently familiarize themselves on the situation "because matters are about to turn into an emergency". He said, "if the well-being of our nationals is threatened and goes out of control, there will be a problem". Ato Meles said, in spite of the government's commitment and readiness to facilitate the smooth return of Ethiopians, only about 4, 000 Ethiopians had so far taken travel documents and 200 of these had already arrived home.

It is very necessary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its missions in Saudi Arabia to continue and expand its operation facilitating the return of Ethiopians residing illegally in the kingdom. The missions can, and do, provide adequate information and assistance on the matter working together with Saudi Arabian institutions on issuance of exit visas and providing services including travel documents to those who need to return home. It remains important to publicize this and underline the government's efforts to facilitate the return of all those who need to return in the next few weeks. Exactly how many illegal Ethiopian immigrants there are in Saudi Arabia isn't known but figures of 200,000 have been suggested out of an estimated total of 2 million from other countries.

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Ethiopia's infrastructure investment attracts Chinese investors.

The Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador La Yifan, in an interview at the weekend, underlined the importance of African countries being ready to receive Chinese manufacturing companies. Ambassador Yifan, speaking to the Ethiopian News Agency, said Chinese companies were interested to move to Africa but Africa must be well prepared for their arrival. Chinese companies would provide significantly more jobs and improve competitiveness he added. 

The Ambassador pointed out that as a result of current Chinese economic developments, the Chinese government was encouraging Chinese companies to relocate as part of restructuring the market. With increased costs of investment, of land, labor, and energy in China, it was necessary to look abroad, through the Go Global initiative. The Chinese government, he said, preferred Africa for investment and this was an opportunity for African countries to create millions of jobs and generate substantial amounts of hard currency. As the Ambassador has explained it's because of the expensive price of investment land, labor and input, that the country is obliged to relocate its industries and invest abroad trough GO GLOBAL initiative.

Ambassador Yifan stressed that it was vital for African countries to have an acceptable political situation, favorable tax and customs' policies and good infrastructure. Equally, even if China had the necessary interest and the African countries were ready to receive Chinese companies, there were still challenges that needed to be met for the sake of attracting investment. The Ambassador underlined the need for more effort in training the workforce, streamlining and removing ‘red tape' ‘and creating overall a more attractive situation for investors. 

Among all the necessary pre-conditions, Ambassador Yifan said the most vital was peace and security. And here, he said, Ethiopia should be proud that it was "one of the safest countries not only on the continent but also in the world", as well as being notable for the development activities that it had embarked upon. This, he said, was why he strongly encouraged Chinese industries to come to Ethiopia. He congratulated the Ethiopian government for its investments over the past 20 years in education and the way it had worked so hard to improve infrastructure: highways, expressways, railroads, electricity and telecommunications.  "So", the Ambassador said, "If you have these infrastructures ready and then you have this well trained labor force, I think you have already achieved half of the success. So in that sense I would like to congratulate the efforts made by Ethiopian government in that regard."

The Ethiopian China relationship has grown steadily in recent years. Bilateral relations can be described as multifaceted and promising for the economic growth of both countries.  Many Chinese companies are engaged in development projects in Ethiopia - railways, roads, and telecommunications are among the major projects that have attracted Chinese investors.  Currently Ethiopia is the fourth largest Chinese investment destination in Africa involving projects worth 14.5 billion birr. Equally, this investment is picking up speed, building on the continued wide-ranging cooperative relationship between the two countries during the first six months of the current Ethiopian fiscal year. This is partly the result of an investment promotion strategy prioritizing the participation of ‘anchor' companies in Ethiopia's manufacturing sector. Their participation at a greater level, in terms of quality and substance in the manufacturing sector, reinforces the vision, aspirations and needs of the country in its aims to move towards a middle-income economy. The growing presence of ‘anchor' companies from China reflects the fact that the economic relationship is gaining momentum from the continued growth of mutual trust in governmental and political areas, and from the frequent high-level exchanges, which are becoming   a central element in Ethio-Chinese friendship.

As Ambassador Yifan noted, the peace and stability which continues to prevail in the country and its ongoing infrastructural development, trainable workforce with competitive wages and a fast growing economy, coupled with strong support from the government and a highly favorable investment climate provide the driving forces to encourage companies to invest in Ethiopia. China is now the leading country investing in Ethiopia both in terms of capital and engagement in manufacturing industry. It looks set to continue to hold this position in the future. 

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The sixth Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa being held this weekend

Security and peace are the basic and important foundations for any successful development of a country, and over the years, various security issues and conflicts in Africa have inevitably affected Africa's economic growth and development. Apart from the continental organization, the African Union, there are a number of institutions and organizations that work to secure peace and stability in Africa. Despite these, however, the problems of insecurity and instability have continued to challenge Africa's renaissance. It was this that led a group of prominent Africans including former president Obasanjo of Nigeria, chairperson of the Forum Advisory Board for the first five years, and the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi, to launch the Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa in 2012.

The Tana High Level Forum is an annual independent platform to discuss issues of peace and security in Africa. The aspiration of the Forum is to bring together key African leaders, policymakers, influential figures in government and non-government stakeholders to initiate dialogue and come up with African-led security solutions for African problems. The Forum is held in an informal setting ranging from seating arrangements to dress code. It allows participants to debate freely and recommend possible solutions to tackle the continent's challenges. The informal setting is inspired by the old African tradition of "talking under the baobab", and the Baobab tree is the emblem of the Forum, held annually on the banks of Lake Tana, at Bahir Dar in Ethiopia's Amhara Regional State.

Since the Forum was inaugurated in 2012, a number of different, if critical, peace and security related challenges have been brought to the table for discussion, allowing plenty of innovative indigenous solutions. In addition to the discussions at the main Forum, the Tana High Level Forum also holds a number of pre-Forum activities and key events every year. These include Ambassadors' briefings, the Annual Tana Forum essay competition, press conferences, public lectures, meeting of Tana ‘experts' and Tana Forum awareness sessions. Alongside the main Forum meeting, there are also key events like the Meles Zenawi Lecture series conducted each year.

During the previous five meetings of the Forum, issues ranging from diversity and security and organized crime in Africa, illicit financial flows, secularism and politicized faith in Africa, to Africa in the global security agenda, have been discussed. The first Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa was held in 2012 in Bahir Dar, under the theme of ‘Managing Diversity and State Fragility' with discussions on the ways to govern diversity and to resolve fragility in Africa to provide for the peace and stability of the continent. There were over 90 participants including 3 heads of state and government. Next year, the theme was ‘Security and Organized Crime in Africa' with major discussions on the impact of human trafficking and organized crime on the peace and stability of the continent. The number of participants rose to 126. 

Year three dealt with ‘Illicit Financial Flows in Africa' and explored the impact of illicit financial flows on security and development. The following year the theme was ‘Secularism and Politicized Faith', discussing the connection between politicized faith, radicalization and terrorism. The number of participants rose to 180. Last year's Forum was on the theme of ‘Africa in the Global Security Agenda' with more than 250 participants discussing reasons why Africa's security challenges were attracting substantial global attention. Indeed, number of participants at the Forum has been growing steadily in terms of number and inclusiveness -  former and sitting heads of state and government, Ministers, Ambassadors, academicians, religious leaders, CEOs, policy makers and journalist and other invited participants all contributing. 

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, Tana Forum Advisory Board chairperson for the Forum's first half decade, said at the Forum's inauguration that its purpose was not to replace existing peace centers and institutions, but rather to support and reinforce them with different ideas and solutions. The Forum, in fact, complements formal meetings of African heads of state and government by bringing people together in an informal, collaborative environment. In fact, the Forum has gone a long way towards realizing its original vision. Its development has been manifested in the increment and inclusiveness of the participants including heads of state and government and the attempts to address the different and relevant issues of peace and security of the continent.

The sixth Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa will be held on April 22 and 23 under the theme of ‘Natural Resources for Governance in Africa'. It is both timely and relevant given the importance of natural resources as critical national assets to insure sustainable development. The experience of many countries has clearly demonstrated the linkages with ongoing internal armed conflicts in Africa. The five natural resource challenges identified as sub-themes for the Forum are: extractives, land-use, inland water, seas and forests. The discussions will revolve around a series of important topics highlighting the fortunes of the African continent and equally, serving as a reminder of the negative effects these can have had on the wellbeing of its people. 

In advance of the Forum, the Ambassadors' briefing underlined the traditional sprit of critical and productive engagement expected at the 6th Tana Forum. The Forum will, as always, allow states and organizations to share experiences of what has, or has not, worked. It will demonstrate the ultimate aim of encouraging participants to consider, and where appropriate, implement and facilitate strategies to strengthen natural resource governance in their areas of influence in Africa.

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President Kagame of Rwanda on a State visit to Djibouti 

President Paul Kagame arrived in Djibouti for a two-day State visit on Tuesday (April 18). He was welcomed by President Ismail Omar Guelleh before the two leaders held talks on trade and investment. President Kagame has indicated that he would like to see Djibouti more closely associated with the East African Community. The two leaders witnessed the signing of five bilateral agreements aimed to strengthen bilateral ties in several key areas, including visa exemptions for diplomatic and service passport holders, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, establishment of a joint commission and a protocol agreement on ICT cooperation. They signed a General Cooperation Agreement to provide a basis for future technical cooperation and a MoU for collaboration between the Djibouti Ports Authority and the Rwanda Development Board. During his visit, President Kagame who was accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, addressed the National Assembly in Djibouti and visited the Port of Doraleh. 

At a joint press conference, after the signing of the agreements, President Kagame said that beyond any win-win scenarios, the partnership between Rwanda and Djibouti was also aimed at encouraging collaboration across the continent. He said: "We continue to advocate for greater unity. The goal is increased prosperity for Djibouti, Rwanda, our region and Africa. We enjoy each step of our continued cooperation and brotherhood that will give rise to what needs to be done in our region." President Kagame noted that the two countries shared close bilateral ties as well as a belief in the importance of a strong and dignified continent. In the interests of the continent at large, he said, Rwanda and Djibouti would work to advance regional integration and implement the African Union reform blueprint he had presented and which had been adopted by the AU Assembly at the last AU Summit in January. He said: "We continue to work together to advance integration in the region and continent, particularly through ongoing African Union reforms." 

President Kagame also noted their cooperation was not limited to the aspects covered by the signed agreements, He said: "We are keen to advance partnership in the areas of investment in economic zones, air transportation, ICT and others. Our cooperation is not limited to these areas but extend to many others that our two sides find mutually beneficial." He described Djibouti as a nation Rwanda was keen on partnering with to advance its own development, adding: "It is clear that Djibouti is a country on the move and we can only be happy our brotherly country is making this progress, We want to be strong partners in that progress." President Kagame said progress was made by coming together and the question was "how fast we can move. We want to move faster. We are happy to continue cooperating with our brothers and sisters to strengthen the integration of our region." 

President Ismail Omar Guelleh expressed Djibouti's solidarity with Rwanda in the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide. He said: "It is the duty and the responsibility of each of us to remember what happened in April 1994 in Rwanda and pass on that memory to future generations. I believe that what you have achieved in your country is a tribute to the strength and resilience of your people and it will remain an example for humanity and African people in particular. President Guelleh said the two nations had a strong commitment to expand their ties in various areas including trade, investments and culture and make the most of opportunities yet to be exploited. Among key areas yet to be exploited were logistics between the two countries to allow free movement of goods and people to promote trade. He said: "Transportation remains a key sector to the business community indeed for the free movement of goods and people which is necessary to enhance trade across the region and would be a model to the rest of the continent.  We can harness our comparative advantage and work on having regular cargo and passenger flights between Rwanda and Djibouti." 

President Guelleh also emphasized that the two countries should develop the plots of land they had exchanged. Djibouti offered Rwanda 20-hectares of land at the port of Djibouti in 2013, and the government in Kigali plans to develop and operate it as a strategic base for imports and exports. During President Guelleh's visit to Rwanda last year, Djibouti was offered a plot of land in the Special Economic Zone in Kigali's Gasabo District. 

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President Kiir's Easter appeal for peace in South Sudan 

President Salva Kiir in a speech to parliament in mid February called on the armed political groups fighting his government to join in a national dialogue. He emphasized: "The national dialogue is a key priority for this government and an important national undertaking. It's designed to unite the people of South Sudan and consolidate peace and improve security. I therefore call upon our partners and those in opposition to cast any doubts aside as we genuinely seek to restore peace". 

The President repeated his call for peace last week on Good Friday (April 14). This, he said, was a day that signified the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, redemption over condemnation and hope over despair. He therefore called for tolerance and acceptance. The nation, he said, belonged to all ethnic groups and he urged all South Sudanese to accept one another, to embrace peace, to forgive, reconcile and live peacefully. He reiterated his government's determination to bring lasting peace to the country, through engagement with other stakeholders. He said: "As we celebrate yet another Easter, I urge all our citizens to live peacefully with one another and do their utmost to make this country a peaceful nation. Our people must accept themselves and appreciate the values of peaceful co-existence. It is in our collective interest to live in peace because without peace, no meaningful and sustainable development can take place." The President added: "The message of Easter is filled with themes of love, faith, sacrifice, dedication, commitment, fulfillment of prophecy, hope, expectation and victory, as espoused in the scriptures and the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus Christ".

Despite the government's repeated calls for peace, fighting between government forces and forces loyal to South Sudan's former First Vice President, Riek Machar, has continued to spread, most recently to the Eastern Equatoria town of Pajok and in Wau. At the same time the humanitarian situation continues to worsen day by day. The United Nations has underlined that the fighting, which has killed thousands and displaced more than a million people, will seriously aggravate the already bleak humanitarian situation. The UN currently estimates that some five million people are hungry, and South Sudan's high inflation rate has made food prices unaffordable to many.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has repeatedly urged the warring parties to silence their guns and demonstrate their responsibility for peace. UNMISS has confirmed that fighting between government troops and the opposition forces in Raga, west of Waat in Jonglei state; and Moustapha Soumaré, the acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, said UNMISS peacekeepers are pushing for access to the conflict areas in order to protect civilians. Mr. Soumaré has also called for leaders from all sides to embrace peace at the time of Easter – a holy Christian festival that should symbolize reconciliation and rebirth of hope. He said: "They must show restraint and demonstrate their responsibility to ensure the sanctity of life of all South Sudanese citizens." He emphasized that there could be no military solution to the conflict, but it was only through a political solution that they can "once and for all silence the guns, return to dialogue, reconcile their differences and bring the peace the South Sudanese people want and deserve." 

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Somali Federal and State Leaders agree on new national security architecture

The Federal and State governments of Somalia have approved a new national security architecture after a two day meeting of the National Consultative Forum in Mogadishu last weekend (April 15-16).  Presided over by Somali Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi, the meeting was attended by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari; Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Kheyre; the President of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas; the President of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islam; the President of Southwest State, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden; the President of Hirshabelle State, Ali Abdullah Osoble; and the Acting President of Galmudug State, Mohamed Hashi Abdi. The meeting, the first formal meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi and the State presidents since the Federal presidential election on February 8, discussed "the biting drought in the country, reforming of the different elements of the national security agencies, combating with those who refuse peace and all other international terrorist groups, the political scenario in the country, enriching the economy, the development of the economic infrastructure and strengthening the relations between the central government and the Regional States."

In the communiqué, released on Monday (April 17), the Forum said it had agreed on a new unified structure for the National Security Policy and for its implementation. This will be spearheaded by a National Security Council chaired by President Mohamed Abdullahi. Its members will include the State presidents. There will also be state-level security councils headed by the respective State presidents. The leaders also agreed that there should be urgent plans "for joint security forces operations to reopen key roads, thus ensuring aid can reach to the drought affected people." The new architecture will provide for drawing up the roadmap for proper integration of security forces which are currently run and administered by both the federal and state government. It will establish a unified and coherent formation for the country's security organs. This will be based on the relevant article of the Provisional Constitution which allows for the creation of the intelligence services, a police force, the armed forces and prison forces. This is something the international community has consistently and strongly advocated. 

According to reports, the architecture calls for forces from state administrations to be integrated into the national army or police within the next three months. The integration program will be conducted by a National Integration Commission to be set up by the end of June. Somalia is to have at least 18,000 troops excluding Special Forces (Danab), Air Force and Navy, and their training will be harmonized under a Somali curriculum "to revive national training institutions, which shall be re-equipped and re-supplied". The force will be distributed across the existing SNA sectors within six months starting in June. The recommendations also include the formation of 500 string Danab forces in each sector. The 32,000 police force will be distributed at state and federal level with a military police element (Darwish) which will work with the army in times of crisis. The integration program will also involve precautions to mitigate the risks of extremist groups recruiting former security forces personnel.

The communiqué noted the President's concern over the deteriorating situation of the drought, which has affected the lives of many people and livestock and caused extensive displacement. The meeting collectively appreciated the rescue efforts spearheaded by Somali citizens, both in national and international levels and as well the international community. It recognized the urgent need for strengthening the efforts to save the lives of the needy, and they agreed on the necessity of having a clear plan to avoid repeated drought.

The Forum expressed positive anticipation regarding the political process in the country and the collaboration between the national and the regional States' leaders. Underlining the importance of reconciliation as a means to bring peace to the country; they specifically encouraged the talks between Galmudug State and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a. They also agreed the plans for the election process in 2020 to be held under universal suffrage, should be started soon and accelerated. These, of course, involve the conclusion of the constitutional review process, a national referendum to approve the supreme law and registration of voters to be preceded by a national census exercise. The leaders agreed to conduct a national census based on actual head count – the last census statistics in 2014 were based on survey estimates. The Forum also agreed on the importance of enhancing the country's economy, increasing incomes, job creation, encouraging investment and trade as well as development of the country's economic infrastructure. Special consideration should be given to the fight against corruption and there should be "a modern, standard way of eradicating it". They also endorsed the National Development Plan and its priorities, and said that there should be statistics and a new Partnership Agreement.

The international community welcomed the meeting. Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, referring to the creation of a National Security Council, said, "This agreement marks a major milestone for Somalia. It is a cornerstone of the federal state building process and is a basis upon which strengthened security can be built." Mr. Keating, who is also the head of the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), said that the international community was committed to supporting the Government's priorities. He made the statement on behalf of the UN, noting that AMISOM, IGAD, the European Union, Italy, Ethiopia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States all expressed their support for the outcome of the consultations.