Egypt’s Sisi says dialogue needed to end Sudan crisis

Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking during the opening of the World Youth Forum in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. He called for dialogue to resolve the crisis in Sudan.

Photo credit: Egyptian Presidency | AFP

Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says Sudan’s crisis can be resolved, with leaders choosing dialogue without external pressure or interference.

On the side-lines of an international conference on Thursday, President Sisi said his country has chosen not to interfere with its neighbour’s political turmoil, but will support all efforts to discuss the problem.

“We have a fixed policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Dialogue is the only way out of the current political crisis in Sudan,” he said in Sharm El-Sheikh city, Egypt’s resort town between the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea.

Sisi was in the city to officially open the World Youth Forum, an annual meeting of youth from across the world where they discuss issues such as diversity and “to engage in discussions on development issues, and send a message of peace” from Egypt to the world, according to the Egyptian leader, referring to the forum endorsed by the UN Committee on Social Development.

But the Egyptian leader also wanted to pass a message on the turmoil in the region.

President Sisi, who himself saw his country transit from a political crisis in 2014, said Egypt supports Sudan’s transition process as led by the Sovereign Council to create a clear path for citizens to elect their leaders freely in future.

Sudan, which toppled its long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, has struggled with the transition. The Military under the Sovereign Council had entered a power sharing deal for a transitional government in August 2019, but that government fell in October 2021 after the Council engineered a coup, detaining Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and some of his cabinet.

Protests

In late November last year, Hamdok agreed to resume premiership duties and was freed from the house arrest. However, the civilian movements in the coalition arrangement rejected the deal and have been protesting since. On January 2, Hamdok resigned, citing frustrations in bringing the parties to the table.

The crisis in Sudan, which only emerged from international isolation and sanctions in December 2020, has stalled cooperation with the neighbours who have other common problems to deal with. Sisi said Cairo is wary of seeing another country in the neighbourhood fall.

“It is lack of dialogue and consensus that has hurt the country so much,” Sisi told a press conference.

“Dialogue and reconciliation are much better than instability because protests will continue and the present and the future of the county will be all lost.

“Egypt is keen on stability of regions not just Sudan but also Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.”

Unfinished business

Egypt, along with Sudan and Ethiopia, have unfinished business to negotiate an operational agreement on the use of the Nile waters, coming in the wake of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) over the Nile.

Sisi said his country was hopeful an amicable solution will be found, but warned that the dam will have an impact on the entire Nile Basin region, which collectively includes 11 countries.

“This is not just an issue about Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan but a matter of grave concern for all the other countries on the Nile Basin who will be affected, that’s why cooperation is important,” he said referring to other countries in the Basin such as South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We appreciate Ethiopia’s concerns and are ready to sit down again and address these issues but they also have to appreciate our concerns and that of 100 million Egyptians.”

Previous discussions under the African Union did not yield a solution and the countries differed on how to run the $5 billion dam without hurting Egypt’s share of the water. Egypt later took the matter to the UN Security Council, citing frustrations witnessed at the AU.

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