Ethiopia seeks AU support in resolving border row with Sudan

Sudanese army soldiers

Sudanese army soldiers in Sudan on August 31, 2019. Since September 2020, the border between Sudan and Ethiopia has been witnessing rising tensions and skirmishes between the two sides. 

Photo credit: Ebrahim Hamid | Getty Images | AFP

The Ethiopian government has called for the invention of African countries in finding a peaceful resolution of the border dispute the country has with Sudan.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry criticised the Sudanese government for acting provocatively.

Ethiopia said it recognises that any conflict is detrimental to the security of the two countries and will cause serious damage.

"Ethiopia believes that any conflict between our two countries would only result in a colossal collateral damage and jeopardises the well-being of the two nations" the statement said. 

While reiterating its commitment for a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue, Ethiopia made calls upon the government of the Sudan to "reverse the aggression, desist from provocation and resort to a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue"

The statement further went in to saying that the aggression being pedaled by the Sudanese army will serve only the interests of third parties.

It is not clear who were the "third parties" implicated in the statement though Ethiopia has a long running water dispute with Egypt and Sudan over Ethiopia's massive hydro-dam project, which downstream countries particularly Cairo fears it would diminish its historic water shares from the multi-Billion dollar power plant project being built along the Nile River.

"The Ethiopian government strongly believes that the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government’s military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people" the statement said.

Ethiopia called on the Sudanese people to investigate whether their government is exploiting the interests of third parties in a way that could jeopardize relations between the two countries.

Contrary to the spirit of cooperation and friendship between the two countries, the statement said, "The Sudanese army has looted properties, set fire to camps, attacked and displaced thousands of civilians, and taken control of empty Ethiopian military camps."

Last week, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the Ethiopian army of crossing borders to Sudan invading some border areas.

In a response, the Ethiopian government yesterday accused Sudan of spreading false information in a bid to cover up its aggression and its increasing attempts to seize more Ethiopian territories.

"What is more deplorable is, in an apparent misrepresentation of the facts on the ground, Sudan is deliberately engaged in misinformation campaigns against Ethiopia by accusing the victim as an aggressor, evading accountability by shifting blame and camouflaging its belligerence and continue its provocation in an attempt  to control more lands"

"Amidst of all these provocative behaviour of the Sudan, Ethiopia has shown a great deal of patience, remained restrained from exercising its legitimate right of self-defence and time and again expressed its commitment to a peaceful settlement of differences regarding the boundary through existing  bilateral agreements and joint border mechanisms" reads part of the statement.

Sudan has repeatedly stated that it will not withdraw its troops alleging it only reclaimed its own lost territories.

The Sudanese government took control of the Al Fashka area, which is being claimed by the Sudanese government, following the deployment of Ethiopian Defence Forces in Tigray in November last year.

At the end of November, Sudan said it has taken control of several long-claimed border areas claiming it is their legal territory.

Following Sudan's move, Ethiopia has repeatedly called for the restoration of border control and for the two countries to resolve the issue through dialogue through the Boundary Commission.

Sudan has a long territorial dispute with Ethiopia along the 750 km-long shared border which most of these boundaries are not clearly marked on the ground.

The task of demarcating the disputed border has not been successful despite long efforts by both sides.

"The Sudanese side has also overturned and undermined the efforts of the joint boundary committees that have been making tireless efforts to finalize the re-demarcation process of the common boundary" the Ethiopian government statement said.

According to various sources, Sudan has summoned its diplomat in Addis Ababa for "consultations" this week, but it was not confirmed whether it was related to the border tensions.

There are growing fears that escalating tensions in recent weeks between the two countries could lead in to a full scale war unless the two countries resolve their differences through dialogue.

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