By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 22, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia and Kenya on Wednesday renewed their commitment to work jointly to tackle the security challenges facing the unstable Horn of Africa region, when Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, held bilateral talks with Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki, in Kenyan capital.
The two sides agreed to promote regional peace and security particularly in tackling terrorism, piracy, and other organized crime that threatens to the already volatile region.
“The two leaders reiterated their commitment to safeguarding security, common values and other fundamental interests of the region and reaffirmed to jointly address challenges to peace and stability in the region, including drought and climate change, terrorism, piracy, human and drug trafficking, as well as other organized crimes” said a joint communiqué issued by the leaders following the talks.
Dessalegn and Kibaki alsoreviewed the progress made by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and noted “with satisfaction that this successful operation has provided a unique opportunity to put an end to years of conflict and instability in the region”.
AMISOM has made significant gains against Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida linked armed group and a new President was elected in September. Academic and civic activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud beat the incumbent Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a run-off presidential vote in the first presidential election held within Somalia since 1967.
Such progress has brought cautious optimism about the war torn nation for the first time in decades.
Ethiopia and Kenya, which both have military presence in Somalia in a bid to help the weak Somalian government battle al-Shabaab, affirmed that they would continue extending support to bring lasting peace to the war ravaged nation.
“The destiny of Somalia rests first and foremost, in the hands of the Somali people themselves. We reiterate our commitment to continue working closely in supporting the government and people of Somalia in their quest for lasting peace and stability,” the two leaders further said.
In this regard, the two East African leaders commended the recent political progress achieved in Somalia that saw the formation of a new government.
They further commended Somalia President Mohamoud, and his government for the relative developments gained thus far in restoring stability.
The high-level meeting between Kibaki and Desalegn comes a day after the 34th Kenya-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) technical meeting held in Nairobi wrapped up on Monday.
The two-day Joint Ministerial Commission meeting concluded by signing draft bilateral agreements on a number of areas, among others on enhancing bilateral ties, socio-economical and security cooperation, including consolidation to the political transition and current stability gained in Somalia following decades of factional fighting and disorder.