Ethiopia sets pre-condition for dialogue with Sudan

Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Photo credit: File | AFP

Ethiopia on Tuesday set a pre-condition outlining what it wants if it is to engage in negotiations with Sudan over their border dispute.

According to State media reports, the government will only begin talks when the Sudanese side goes back to the status quo ante, an Ethiopian news agency quoting Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti, said today.

"Our precondition to carry out the negotiations with the Sudanese side is return to the status quo ante. Then we will discuss the border issue," he said.

Mr Dina stressed that there won't be any dialogue with Sudan unless the latter pulls its forces out of occupied Ethiopian territories.

While commending the initiative of actors who have been trying to settle the dispute through dialogue, Mr Dina stated that Ethiopia “is always ready to settle border issues through normal mechanisms that have already been schemed out”.

The spokesperson stressed that Ethiopia is still committed towards peaceful resolution of the border dispute with Sudan.

Sudan's position

The Sudanese government spokesman, on the other hand, said last Friday that the country has no interest in going to war with Ethiopia.

Spokesperson Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, however, said Sudan is “capable of protecting its own lands and restoring those left with Ethiopia"

"We only want our land," Al-Fakki told news agency Al-Arabyia, adding that "the eruption of war between Sudan and Ethiopia is not in the region's interest."

He argued that the only way this border conflict can be solved is through the joint technical committees of the two countries tasked to handle the demarcation process.

Is Sudan ready?

Despite Sudan's verbal interest in dialogue, Khartoum however at the same time says its army is committed to reclaiming its lost territories.

"Our army will do its duty to take back all our land. currently our army has taken back between 60 and 70 per cent of Sudanese land," Sudan's Information Minister Faisal Saleh told Reuters last month.

"Sudan is on a strategic path acting to look more moderate and peaceful" Solomon Ayalew, a political analyst told the Nation.

"It is good to hear from the Sudanese side that war is not a solution to the border dispute but they must prove that they sincerely want dialogue by immediately leaving the occupied Ethiopian territories," he added.