Sudan, Ethiopia leaders discuss joint border control

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The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s premier Abiy Ahmed Monday have discussed the formation of a joint border control force and completion of the border demarcation.

The two leaders met on Monday on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

Al-Bashir and Ahmed also discussed ways to promote bilateral relations and enhance joint cooperation on the regional and international forums as well as the meetings of the technical and higher coordination committees between the two countries.

Furthermore, the meeting discussed ongoing efforts to achieve regional peace particularly in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Although Khartoum and Addis Ababa have close ties, the border area between the two countries remains a source of tension and violence between the two sides due to the human trafficking and smuggling to reach Egypt and Libya.

Also, Ethiopian farmers are accused by the Sudanese farmers of occupying vast agricultural land in the Al-Fashqa area of Gedaref State.

The third issue until recently was Ethiopian rebels who sneak over the border coming from Eritrea. Many have been detained and handed over to the Ethiopian authorities.

Earlier this month, there were media reports that Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, has warned that Sudan’s failure to curb continued arms smuggling into Ethiopia through its border may lead to cutting diplomatic relations.

However, the Ethiopian government has dismissed these reports as unfounded saying the Foreign Minister’s remarks were taken out of context.

In October 2017, the security committee between Sudan’s Gedaref state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region decided to recommend to the leadership of the two countries to deploy a joint force along the border.

Last August, the Sudanese and Ethiopian armies signed an agreement to withdraw troops from both sides of the border and to deploy joint forces to combat “terrorism”, human trafficking and to eliminate any potential security tensions. But it was not clear if effective steps have been taken towards its deployment.

On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the current borders between Sudan and Ethiopia were drawn by the British and Italian colonisers in 1908. The two governments have agreed in the past to redraw the borders and to promote joint projects between people from both sides for the benefit of local populations.

The joint Sudanese-Ethiopian High Committee announced in December 2013 that it reached an agreement to end disputes between farmers from two sides of the border over the ownership of agricultural land.

In November 2014, the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President al-Bashir instructed their Foreign Ministers to fix a date for resuming the border demarcation. The operation had stopped following the death of Ethiopia’s former premier, Meles Zenawi.

(ST)