Eritrean president in historic Somali visit


Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived for his first-ever visit to Somalia, another sign of rapidly changing relations in the region following Eritrea’s rapprochement with one-time foe Ethiopia.

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi’s office said in a statement the visit was to boost diplomatic relations and explore co-operation in security and investment.

Isaias landed in Mogadishu on Thursday and headed to the Somali president’s office, Reuters witnesses said adding security was tight in the capital.

“President Isaias’s historic visit is part and parcel of the consultative Tripartite Summits of the Heads of State and Government of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter.

The three countries are mending sometime fraught relations since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April.

In July, Somalia and Eritrea said they planned to establish diplomatic relations as ties improved across the Horn of Africa following Eritrea’s rapprochement with Ethiopia.

Past Somali administrations accused Eritrea of supplying weapons to anti-government Islamist insurgents. Asmara repeatedly denied this, saying the accusations were concocted by its enemy, Ethiopia.

In 2007, Eritrea exited East African bloc IGAD in protest as Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to fight militants.

The visit comes as Somali President Abdullahi faces an impeachment motion, filed in parliament last week.

A copy of the motion, seen by Reuters, lists as grounds for impeachment an allegation the president secretly signed agreements with other countries, including Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Abdikarim Haji Buh, general secretary of the Somalia parliament said in a statement the motion was likely to fail, since the minimum 92 lawmakers needed for the motion to be valid hadn’t been attained.