By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Kenyan President William Ruto met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday to discuss bilateral cooperation and deepen the economic and strategic ties between the two countries on regional issues
This is President Ruto’s first visit to Ethiopia after being elected as Kenya’s fifth president.
It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had taken part in the inauguration ceremony of President William Ruto in Nairobi on September 13/2022.
Ethiopia and Kenya are countries that have long-standing friendships and cooperation based on mutual benefit.
The visit also comes amid the ongoing war between Ethiopian troops and the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF).
Talks about the ongoing Tigray conflict are expected to take centre stage in the meeting between the two leaders.
Earlier on, President Ruto had affirmed that his administration would play an active role in spearheading the peace talks between the region.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s retired President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to begin his role in the Ethiopia conflict mediation even as confusion reigned on the existence of the date for the African Union-sponsored talks.
Ethiopia on Wednesday said it had accepted an invitation to attend peace talks led by the African Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo, in South Africa.
Redwan Hussein, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, “The GoE (Government of Ethiopia) has accepted this invitation which is in line with our principled position regarding the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the need to have talks without preconditions.”
The leaked invitation letter said President Kenyatta and South Africa’s former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would serve as part of a trio of mediators known as the ‘Troika of negotiators’. This will be the first time Kenyatta will be engaged in regional matters after his successor Ruto named him a special envoy for the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region.
But the letter said the parties had been invited to talks from “Sunday, 8 October 2022” to deliberate on “the guiding principles, agenda issues, modalities, format and timelines for the negotiated settlement…” October 8 will be a Saturday, however, and the African Union did not immediately clarify whether this was a typo.
The meeting is part of AU’s push to have parties choose dialogue. The Ethiopian government has been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) since November 2020 and accuses the rebel group of being terrorists. The parties have, however, faced pressure to hold talks, even though they resumed fighting three weeks ago.