The Sudanese government has strongly condemned “the aggression committed by Ethiopia on Sudanese territory” and the “direct violation of its sovereignty and the safety of the Sudanese lands”. A statement by the Foreign Ministry Khartoum yesterday says: “The aggression on Sudanese territory is an unacceptable and regretful escalation”.
Relations between Sudan and Ethiopia are tense as attacks by Ethiopian militiamen in eastern Sudan remain commonplace and negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continue to face difficulties.
In January, the Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority set up a no-fly zone over El Fashaga border area in El Gedaref, after an Ethiopian military warplane entered Sudanese airspace. In Khartoum, political leaders called for the expulsion of the Ethiopian ambassador because of his “provocative statements”.
The Ethiopian military aircraft penetrated the Sudanese airspace when a high-ranking military delegation, headed by the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, was visiting El Gedaref to discuss the recent border issues with officials in the eastern Sudanese state.
At the time, Sovereign Council member, Lt Gen Shamseldin Kabbashi underlined that Sudan is seeing to deescalate the situation: “We need to address our contentious issues and our problems by intensifying peaceful efforts that are based on political and diplomatic means, dialogue and negotiation,” he said.
“Sudan does not intend to carry out any military actions unless it is forced to do so and does not encroach on Ethiopian lands and has no ambitions in it,” he explained. “The redeployment of the army forces and control over Sudanese lands on the eastern borders is a natural matter to protect the borders and the security of citizens and their agricultural lands.”
Earlier this month, three Sudanese merchants were kidnapped by Ethiopian shifta gunmen and were released only after their families reportedly paid a ransom.
Yesterday’s new Foreign Ministry statement via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) says: “The aggression contradicts the values of good neighbourliness and the positive treatment between the countries to strengthen security and stability, adding that the Ethiopian actions would have “dangerous impacts on security and stability in the region,” adding that “Sudan holds Ethiopia fully responsible for the consequences of its aggression”.
Last week, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of the European Union (EU). Pekka Haavisto, arrived in Sudan for a two-day official tour, and visited camps harbouring refugees from the Tigray conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia. The EU envoy met with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Minister of Foreign Affairs Omar Gamareldin, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasir Abbas, and the Acting Wali (governor) of Kassala state El Tayeb El Sheikh.
Haavisto’s visit focused on consultation over tensions in the region, to help in reducing tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia, and how the international community could provide support in finding peaceful solution to crises facing the region.