Eritrea has rejoined the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), after pulling out 16 years ago.
Information Minister Yemane Meskel posted on social media on Monday that Eritrea had resumed its activity and has taken its seat at the ongoing IGAD summit in neighbouring Djibouti.
He said the country was ready to work toward “peace, stability and regional integration.”
The regional grouping’s executive secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu, said he was “delighted to welcome Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh” as he joined the meeting.
Eritrea suspended its membership of the body in 2007 in protest against Ethiopia’s military intervention in Somalia and alleged manipulation of the organization by external forces.
IGAD is made up of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
The authoritarian state suspended its IGAD membership in 2007 following a string of disagreements, including over the bloc’s decision to ask Kenya to oversee the resolution of a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in 1993 and fought a two-year border war with its neighbour that poisoned relations until a peace agreement in 2018.
Following the rapprochement with Addis Ababa, Eritrean troops supported Ethiopian forces during the federal government’s war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and have been accused by the United States and rights groups of some of the conflict’s worst atrocities.
That war ended with a peace deal signed in November last year that called for the withdrawal of foreign forces, but Asmara was not a party to the agreement and its troops continue to be present in bordering areas of Tigray, according to residents who have accused the soldiers of murder, rape and looting.
The country sits near the bottom of global rankings for press freedom, as well as human rights, civil liberties and economic development.