In Summary
  • Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, a former Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, faces the challenge of unifying the bloc’s members, bringing in Eritrea and raising funds for a bloc that has often relied on donors.
  • The new Executive Secretary on Thursday met ambassadors from Igad countries including Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.
  • Dr Workneh’s appointment will, however, need a formal approval from the Igad Summit, composed of heads of state and governments from member states.

An Ethiopian has taken over the mantle of regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), calming weeks of wrangles that had threatened to stall programmes for the eight-member association.

But Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, a former Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, faces the challenge of unifying the bloc’s members, bringing in Eritrea and raising funds for a bloc that has often relied on donors for most of its programmes.

Outgoing Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim, a Kenyan diplomat, handed over to Dr Workneh on Thursday.

Mr Maalim completed his two four-year terms in 2007 but had to extend his service as the bloc searched for his replacement.

“He won the donors’ trust because of prudent use of funds. He is both effective and efficient,” Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, a Political Advisor at Igad, said on Mr Maalim’s tenure.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The Executive Secretary is technically Igad's chief executive officer and is appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a term of four years’ that is renewable once.

The new Executive Secretary on Thursday met ambassadors from Igad countries including Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Eritrea, a founder member of Igad, has often been on and off, suspending itself in 2007 before returning in 2006, but still failing to attend most meetings.

Regarding the new appointee, Mr Sheekh said, “[He] has impressive networks among the donor and diplomatic communities.

"His first task is to chair the Council of Ministers on South Sudan in Addis Ababa this week. He will also be consulting the chair of Igad on the dates of the historic ordinary summit of heads of state and government, where a new chair will be chosen.”

APPROVAL

Dr Workneh’s appointment will, however, need a formal approval from the Igad Summit, composed of heads of state and governments from member states.

The last such ordinary summit happened in 2010 when Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki handed chairmanship to then Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi.

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