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IGAD elects Sudan as Chair, endorses Juba’s mediation for peace talks

Sudan's PM Abdallah Hamdok and his FM Asma Abdallah at the IGAS Assembly of Head of State and Government meeting on 29 November 2019 (SUNA Photo)
November 30, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - IGAD leaders elected Sudan for the first time for the chairmanship of the East African block and endorsed South Sudan as the mediator of the Sudan peace process.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had been chaired by Ethiopian since 2008. Sudan had never taken the chairmanship of the regional body as its former leadership was rejected by the international community.

The decision to elect as the head of the regional organisation was announced at the end of the IGAD annual meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa on Friday.

"Elected Sudan as the Chair of IGAD, and expressed its confidence that under the leadership of Sudan, IGAD will reach new heights in realizing regional integration and political cooperation," reads a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister, Asmaa Abdallah, praised Sudan election for the chairmanship of the IGAD, pointing that it shows the regional support for its new government and a recognition of what it can offer it various fields.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok led the Sudanese delegation to the meeting which was attended by, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Djiboutian President Ismail Guelleh, President Salva Kiir Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and Kenyan Foreign Minister Monica Juma.

The ordinary regional summit also endorsed the South Sudanese mediation for the peace talks between the transitional government and the armed groups in Sudan.

"Commended the Government and people of Sudan for transitioning into the civilian rule and for their resilience and determination, and in this regard endorsed the role of the Republic of South Sudan in mediating the peace talks in Juba;" said the statement.

The endorsement by the regional body provides a regional cover for the ongoing process which should resume in Juba on 10 December.

Also, it comes after a recent meeting between the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) with the South Sudanese officials where it was agreed to provide a technical secretariat for the mediation.

The statement called on the international community to lift the "crippling economic sanctions" imposed on Sudan and South Sudan.

In addition, the IGAD head of states praised the commitment of the South Sudanese parties to the ceasefire agreement for more than a year and urged the Parties to accomplish "the pre-transitional tasks within the extended hundred days and form the R-TGoNU by the end of the extended period.

The U.S. top diplomat for Africa, Tobor Nagy was the first to congratulate Hamdok for his election at the head of the IGAD

"Congratulations to Sudan PM Hamdokon assuming the chair of IGAD," Nagy wrote in a tweet he posted few hours after his election.

"The U.S. looks forward to continuing our work with IGAD secretariat and Sudan on regional issues, especially the peace process in South Sudan," he added.

(ST)