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Relations between Sudan and Ethiopia remain tense

January 19 - 2021 EL GEDAREF / KHARTOUM
Egyptian President El Sisi catapults Sudan's El Burhan at the GERD (RD - Omar Dafallah)
Egyptian President El Sisi catapults Sudan's El Burhan at the GERD (RD - Omar Dafallah)

Relations between Sudan and Ethiopia remain tense as attacks by Ethiopian militiamen in eastern Sudan remain commonplace and negotiations on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continue to face difficulties.

On Saturday, Ethiopian militiamen (known as shifta in the region) killed two Sudanese shepherds and stole 250 cattle in East El Galabat locality, El Gedaref.

Eid El Zein, a local leader from the border town of El Lahouin, said in a press statement that shifta trespassed Sudanese lands and fatally stabbed two shepherds named El Zein Ahmed and Adam Ahmed before fleeing back to Ethiopian lands.

He explained that their bodies were transferred to a morgue in El Gedaref and that a case was filed at the Doka district police department.

Last week, six women and a child were killed in an attack by shifta in El Gedaref.

GERD talks

In the meantime, the Supreme Committee again rejected Ethiopia’s decision to start on the second phase of construction work on the GERD next July, without reaching an agreement beforehand.

The committee explained that this decision was made predominantly because of the safety requirements of the operation and the impact the dam would have on other water facilities in the country.

They stressed that Sudan does not accept Ethiopia’s ‘imposition’ and that the GERD threatens the safety of 20 million Sudanese citizens whose lives and livelihoods depend on the water of the Blue Nile river.

In a meeting on Sunday, the country’s leaders discussed alternative options after the breakdown of the tripartite negotiations over the past six months. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and attended by the Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Irrigation and Water Resources, and the directors of the General Intelligence Service and the Military Intelligence.

The meeting confirmed Sudan's position on the matter as it adheres to the principle that a binding legal agreement on the construction and operation of the Renaissance Dam needs to be reached in order to preserve and take into account the interests of all three parties.

Last week, Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources expressed “deep concern” over Ethiopia's intention to proceed with the filling of the GERD and over the absence of bilateral talks in addition to tripartite meetings.

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