Mogadishu (UM) – Last night President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo signed a trilateral cooperation agreement with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and the President of Eritrea, Esaias Afwerki. In this comprehensive agreement the three East African leaders agreed to cooperate in the areas of security, economy, culture and social affairs. This agreement comes after further discussions took place between the three leaders and technical staff after President Farmaajo’s historic visit to Eritrea a few months ago.
The signed agreement pledges that all three countries will respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while working closely towards advancing peace, stability and progress in the Horn of Africa region. These notable objectives are truly a step in the right direction but it is not possible without Djibouti.
Djibouti has registered its dissatisfaction with both the Somali and Ethiopian government over this accelerated process of regional reconciliation and cooperation. Djibouti still feels Eritrea has much to answer for its activities during their war with them. Djibouti claims Eritrea is holding and mistreating some of their prisoners of war and still occupying parts of their land. These claims must be resolved before Djibouti is persuaded to join the train of regional peace and stability driven together by Somalia and Ethiopia.
In a wise move, the Foreign Minister’s of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea all set off for Djibouti to initiate dialogue for the peace process between Djibouti and Eritrea to begin. Whatever the outcome, the Somali government must be given credit for not been outdone by Ethiopia which is seeking to take the torch and run with the process to its own diplomatic advantage and credit. Somalia is a real stakeholder now and only its strong relations with Djibouti and Eritrea can bring Djibouti to the negotiating table.
The Somali government is trusted by both Djibouti and Eritrea much more than Ethiopia. Ethiopia was the country that turned both against each other and instigated the painful war in the first place. The Somali government must cease this opportunity to lead the negotiations process and resolve one of the most difficult conflicts amicably. If Somalia can do this, which it can, it will proudly return to the community of nations, win respect in the region and benefit from the stability and economic opportunities that follow.
Djibouti on its part must be wise and play the long game. It fought with Eritrea at a time of regional challenges and today, Eritrea is ready to make peace. Peace is the most expensive commodity and the greatest enabler of investment and development for the Horn of Africa.
Djibouti must not lose this opportunity to jump on board the reconciliation bandwagon to realise its own economic goals through regional stability, connectivity and opportunities. It should also trust the Somali government to lead the negotiations because it is the most sincere and reliable brother for the role when compared to Ethiopia.