IGAD Summit an endorsement of Somalia’s stability- Foreign Affairs Minister

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Eight heads of states and governments from the regional trade bloc IGAD will gather in Mogadishu Tuesday, a first in more than 30 years to shore up the upcoming polls in the Horn of Africa country.

Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Abdusalam Omer Hadliye has said the event which will also discuss the protracted political situation in South Sudan is an endorsement of Somalia’s stability and security following decades of anarchy and conflict.

“It is the first time Mogadishu or Somalia in general hosts such a high-level summit for more than 30 years. We see it as a historic signal and message to the world that ‘Somalia is coming back,’” Hadliye Said . This will be the first high profile event in Somalia’s soil since 1974.

IGAD council of Ministers met in Mogadishu January last year setting the ground for the 53rd Heads of States and Governments next week.

Somalia is gearing up for elections which will start later this month with the election of members of the Lower House and culminate into the election of the President October 30 this year.

The IGAD Summit will deliberate on the progress made so far in preparing for the polls which is billed as more participatory than the 2012 round.

14,025 delegates will participate in the election of the Lower House members unlike in 2012 when only 135 elders participated in choosing the MPs.

The leaders expected to join Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud in Mogadishu include Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, SalvaKiirMayardit of South Sudan; HailemariamDesalgne of Ethiopia; Omar Bashir of Sudan, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.

Last year, Foreign Ministers from seven countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, met in the Somali capital for the first time in nearly 25 years.

Somali government has tightened the security of Mogadishu ahead of the Summit which will start on Tuesday.

Police and elite forces were deployed in many parts of the city blocking access for cars and people from the main roads.

Security personnel have been deployed in sensitive areas and along the roads leading to the capital’s airport and Presidential palace, checking all cars and vehicles.

The roads blocked include Maka al Mukarama, Sayidka, KM4 junction, Zoppe and the Airport Road. The 22,000 strong AU force is mandated with assisting the federal government in its war against the terror group Al-Shabaab

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