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Somalia and Eritrea sign MoU to develop bilateral ties.

Tuesday July 12, 2022

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at cementing bilateral ties in key areas of common interest between the two countries.

The signing of the seven-point agreement followed bilateral talks between the two Presidents in Asmara on the last day of President Mohamud’s four-day state visit to Eritrea.

The two Presidents agreed to promote relations between their people, including diaspora communities, adding they would also strengthen political and diplomatic cooperation to protect and advance their national interests.

They also agreed to broaden economic and social cooperation with emphasis on trade, investment, water security, agriculture, fisheries, health and education.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his Eritrean counterpart also agreed to enhance defence and security cooperation to safeguard peace and stability and to collaborate on economic integration in the Horn of Africa.

In September 2018, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmaajo), president of Somalia, Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea, and Abiy Ahmed, prime minister of Ethiopia, signed a similar pact formally titled the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation Between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea.

During his stay in Asmara, the Somali President and Afwerki visited the Somali army brigade trained in Eritrea, where they congratulated the recruits for completing the training. The president’s visit marked the first time the Eritrean-trained Somali soldiers appeared in public.

The soldiers - numbered in the thousands - first arrived in Eritrea in mid-August 2019 and as recently as June 2020. The recruits have reportedly received specialized training.

The clandestine training program, launched by the Farmajo administration and managed by NISA, came under heavy criticism by opposition figures and family members of the soldiers. The federal government and top military officials denied that the training program existed.

Farmajo admitted that recruits were transferred to Eritrea for training after his election loss in May. He continued by saying that the soldiers would have been returned sooner had it not been for the increased tensions brought on by the protracted elections.

According to a UN report from the previous year, Eritrean-trained Somali fighters allegedly fought alongside Eritrean soldiers in the Tigray war. According to a Globe and Mail story from January, Somali soldiers committed war crimes in at least six Tigrayan villages between December 2020 and February 2021.

Both the governments of Ertirea and Somalia have strongly denied the allegations.

Somalia's federal government has promised to repatriate the soldiers back to Somalia but has not given a timeline for when that will happen. President Mohamud said that the soldiers would participate in the new offensive campaign against Al- Shabaab upon their arrival.



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