The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have reclaimed territory from Ethiopian army soldiers and militiamen in eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref. Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement, said his rebels are willing to join the SAF in the disputed border area.
SAF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Lt Gen Majdi Osman said on Al Arabiya news channel that the army recaptured half of the lands occupied by Ethiopian army soldiers and militiamen (called shifta in the region). They managed to regain control over six Ethiopian camp sites in El Fashaga and 11 other sites in El Gureisha near the El Gedaref-Ethiopian border.
He emphasised that the Sudanese army did not cross the Ethiopian border.
El Rasheed Abdelgader, head of the El Fashaga Lands Victims Committee, confirmed that the army advanced from 12 to 3 kilometres from the border with Ethiopia, where it recaptured six camps.
Earlier this month, the Sudanese army regained control of Khor Yabis in El Fashaga, that was occupied by Ethiopian militiamen, who cultivated the land together with Ethiopian farmers for more than 25 years.
Last week, border demarcation talks between Sudanese and Ethiopian government delegations in Khartoum concluded without an agreement. The negotiations reportedly failed because the Ethiopian delegation refused to recognise the 1903 border demarcation, saying that the British-Ethiopian treaty on the border was signed in colonial times.
Since Sudan became independent in 1956, no clear demarcation of the 1,600-kilometer border with Ethiopia has been made. This has made it easy for Ethiopian militants to occupy fertile farmlands in eastern Sudan.
According to the El Fashaga Lands Committee, about 90 per cent of the lands in the border area has been occupied by shifta for years.
Farmers in El Fashaga, backed by the El Gedaref governor, demanded in July that these lands be returned to them. The ousted regime of Omar Al Bashir ignored complaints about violence and occupation in El Gedaref’s border area.
Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the armed rebel movements that signed the Juba Peace Agreement, warned of more attacks during a press conference at Sudan News Agency yesterday.
He said that both the Sudanese and the Ethopian army are sending reinforcements to the disputed area. Ethiopian forces paved roads with asphalt in the occupied areas. They also used heavy artillery against the SAF troops during the clashes, he stated.
The rebel leader announced that the armed forces of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance are willing to join the Sudanese army in El Gedaref. He demanded that the Sudanese government provide logistical, political, and media support for the army “so it can defend and restore the homeland”.
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