The Sudanese government deployed thousands of paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) along the border with Eritrea last week. On Saturday, the Governor of Kassala ordered the closure of all border crossings in the state.
“Thousands of RSF troops riding in hundreds of Land Cruisers and tanks arrived in the eastern part of the state since Wednesday afternoon,” A listener told Radio Dabanga from Kassala on Friday.
“They closed the border crossings of El Laffa and Awad on Thursday before reopening them again on Friday. No explanations were given,” he said.
A bridegroom told this station that he and his bride could not travel for their honeymoon to Eritrea on Thursday.
The Governor of Kassala, Adam Jamaa, said that the paramilitaries are responsible for collecting illegal arms, conducting an inventory of unlicensed vehicles, and combating of the smuggling of people and goods in the state.
During an inspection of El Laffa on Friday, the governor denied that the border with Eritrea was closed on Thursday. He said that people should not believe these rumours, and emphasised that citizens and goods have been able to cross the border at the Awad, Karayit, and El Laffa check points without a problem throughout the week.
On Saturday however, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported that the Governor of Kassala ordered the closure of all border crossing points with Eritrea as of January 5 until further notice.
State of Emergency
In July, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in the five states of Darfur, and South and West Kordofan. Members of the RSF and army soldiers were employed in August to implement the measures.
In end December, the collection of illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles was extended to North Kordofan and Kassala. For this reason, the State of Emergency was imposed in both states.
Politicians and activists in the two states however doubt the reason for the measure. “The Sudanese Constitution conditions a declaration of a State of Emergency with disasters and epidemics or foreign intervention,” a lawyer told this station.
“Implementing such a measure aims to cut the way for any possible street protests from against the passage of the 2018 budget, the repeated sharp rise of basic consumer prices, and the escalating fuel and wheat shortages,” Mohamed Iheimir, Head of the Unified National Unionist Party in Kassala commented.