Monday December 21, 2020
Sudan and Ethiopia will hold negotiations next week to delineate their shared border, a statement from Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s office said on Sunday.
The talks will be held on Tuesday, a week after Ethiopian forces reportedly ambushed and killed Sudanese troops along the border.
“Hamdok and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed on Sunday discussed the meeting of the committee for delineating the borders which will be held on December 22,” the statement said.
The two leaders met on the margins of a summit under way on Sunday in Djibouti of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc comprising eight countries. Hamdok is the current head of the IGAD.
A cross-border attack by Ethiopian forces and rebels last Tuesday killed at least four Sudanese troops and wounded a dozen others in the Abu Tyour area in eastern Sudan’s Gadarif province.
Sudan’s state-run news agency SUNA on Saturday said its military had deployed “large reinforcements” into the province to reclaim territories controlled by Ethiopian farmers and rebels in Sudan’s al-Fashqa border area.
The troops would stop at the borderline according to the 1902 deals between Sudan and Ethiopia, SUNA reported.
Tuesday’s cross-border attack in Abu Tyour came amid weeks-long fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region that has pitted the federal government against regional authorities.
The Tigray fighting has sent more than 52,000 Ethiopian refugees into Sudan, most of them into Gadarif province.
At the start of the clashes in Tigray, Sudan deployed more than 6,000 soldiers to its border with Ethiopia.
Ongoing border clashes
The attack in Gadarif was the latest by Ethiopian forces and rebels on Sudanese troops and people over the past several months, and has strained ties between the two neighbours.
The sides have held talks in recent months to encourage Ethiopian farmers to withdraw from Sudan’s al-Fashqa border area, which they have cultivated for years.
Following the attack, the head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, travelled to Gadarif and spent three days there overseeing the deployment of heavily armed troops to the border area, according to a senior military official.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
Addis Ababa was keen to downplay the importance of the incident, saying it did not threaten the relationship between the two countries.
“Such incidents will not break the bond between our two countries as we always use dialogue to resolve issues. Those fanning discord clearly do not understand the strength of our historical ties,” Prime Minister Abiy tweeted on Thursday.