Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has pledged support for Eritrea's bid to rejoin the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), but said Asmarah must renounce its support to extremists in the region.
Speaking after receiving a special message from Eritrean President, Isaias Aferweki, in Nairobi Monday, President Kibaki assured Eritrea of Nairobi's backing, subject to its rejection of extremist groups, notably the Al Shabaab extremists.
The Eritrean ambassador to Kenya, Beyene Russom, relayed the Special Message from Asmara, seeking Kenya's support for Eritrea to rejoin IGAD, according to a statement from the Kenyan Presidency.
In the message, the Eritrean President said he viewed Kenya as a bastion of peace in the region and specifically asked for Kenya's intervention to have Eritrea back.
President Kibaki said Nairobi was willing to support Eritrea, but this would depend on its decision to back regional peace efforts.
Kenya and Eritrea exchanged some rhetoric in November 2011 when the Kenyan forces inside Somalia accused Eritrea of aiding arms flow to the Al Shabaab.
Eritrea left the regional body in 2007 in protest over an IGAD resolution voicing support for Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia to flush out warlords.
Some of the warlords later fled to Eritrea, which was later taken as Eritrea's political support to the warlords in Somalia.
UN reports have also linked Eritrea to the financing of the Somali Islamists using its diplomatic cover.
On the recommendation of the IGAD and the African Union, the UN Security Council slapped sanctions against Eritrea.
A new push by Ethiopia in 2011 saw additional sanctions targeting Eritrea's mining sector, which its rivals claimed was being used to finance terrorism in the region.
Eritrea's request to President Kibaki, asking for Nairobi's intervention to allow Eritrea back as a member of the IGAD follows Asmara's application in 2011 to be allowed to rejoin.
IGAD ministers and other organs referred the request to the heads of state for a formal response, but no major decision had yet been made.
The Eritrean leader's request comes months after the death of former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who was strongly opposed to Eritrea's bid to rejoin the regional body.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 29Oct2012