In Summary
  • Normally a calm organisation focusing on Horn of Africa’s political scene, members seeking to lead Igad for the first time since its formation in 1996 are agitated.
  • The spark occurred 10 days ago when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the current chairman, appointed his former Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu as the executive secretary.
  • The letter from Abiy said there had been consultations with other heads on October 10 when leaders landed in Addis Ababa to witness the reopening of Unity Park.

Services at the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (Igad) could be crippled following a stalemate on who becomes chief executive officer and chairman of the bloc.

Normally a calm organisation focusing on Horn of Africa’s political scene, members seeking to lead Igad for the first time since its formation in 1996 are agitated.

The spark occurred 10 days ago when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the current chairman, appointed his former Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu as the executive secretary.

Workneh is supposed to take office on November 1, according to details contained in the appointment a letter.

Member states complain that the decision did not follow laid down procedures.

CONSULTATION

Igad’s eight members are Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan and Sudan.

The letter from Abiy said there had been consultations with other heads on October 10 when leaders landed in Addis Ababa to witness the reopening of Unity Park.

A day later, Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the region, largely as Igad chairman.

Igad has, for the last decade, been influential in regional security and political matters.

It drafted a proposal that created the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), following an endorsement by the AU Peace and Security Council.

It has also been a mediator in the South Sudan peace talks, leading to a number of ceasefire agreements even though most were broken.

Some officials in the region told the Nation that Workneh’s appointment did not follow consultations.

“We think the appointment of the executive secretary should have waited for the summit,” a Kenyan diplomat familiar with the tussle said.

He added that the decision would not augur well on membership of the bloc as it means Ethiopia is not willing to let others take part in the leadership of Igad.

PAST CASE

The executive secretary is technically the CEO of the regional bloc and is appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a four-year term, renewable once.

The current holder, Mahboub Maalim, a Kenya, overshot his two-term limit by two and a half years.

Page 1 of 2