Prime Minister Hailemaiam Desalegn was in Mogadishu, Somalia, early last week to attend the 28th summit by IGAD heads of state. Seen by political pundits as a validation of Somalia’s recovery, the event was held for the first time since Somalia hosted similar summit in 1986. It was the second visit by Hailemariam, who was there before in September 2012, a day after he was elected as EPRDF’s chairman, following the death of the late Meles Zenawi. Meles was the first Ethiopian leader to have visited Mogadishu in June 2007, six months after Ethiopian troops made a historic march to the city.
Four years ago, Hailemariam was there to attend the inauguration of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (walking alongside him in the photo) as president of Somalia. As the case was then, Mogadishu was highly fortified last week, in the effort to secure the safe arrivals and departures of its guests. Sudan’s President, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, did not attend the summit, while Djibouti President, Ismael O. Guelleh’s plane had mechanical problems making landing difficult, according to media reports. He has failed to appear at the summit, while South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and Eritrea’s Issayas Afeworqi were not in attendance.
Presidents of Kenyan and Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta and Yoweri Museveni, respectively, have attended the summit whose agenda was dominated by conflict in South Sudan and Somalia’s elections before the end of this year.