Date: Wednesday, 08 February 2023
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Wednesday arrived in Nairobi for a two-day official visit, his first tour to Kenya since 2018.
He is accompanied by his Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Advisor Yemane Ghebreab.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said the trip was “on the invitation of President William Ruto”, with whom they are expected to discuss bilateral issues in Nairobi.
Mr Isaias had last visited Kenya officially on December 15, 2018 during the tenure of former president Uhuru Kenyatta, although he often makes private trips to Kenya.
The trip may mark a significant turn in relations that looked on the ice for most of the decade.
Asmara and Addis Ababa are closer these days, having normalised ties in 2018, but Eritrea had in the past withdrawn from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), saying the bloc was being used by Ethiopia against Asmara.
Kenya had earlier in 2011 accused Eritrea of providing arms to Al-Shabaab militants. Despite denials, Eritrea was later sanctioned by the UN Security Council. The sanctions were lifted in 2019.
In 2015, a Kenyan presidential jet was turned away mid-flight as it neared the Eritrean airspace. Eritrea rejected accusations it had refused a flight path to the Kenyan leaders’ jet.
Ruto has been reaching out to Eritrea to have them participate more in regional affairs.