October 11, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan is headed towards a renewed dispute with Egypt over a border region after the electoral commission announced that it will be covered in the upcoming April 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections.
- An aerial view of Halayeb Triangle on Egypt-Sudan borders (Google Earth)
The commission made a surprising announcement that the residents of the Red Sea border area of Halayeb will be allowed to register as voters in the elections.
The head of the geographical constituencies in the commission Mukhtar Al-Asam told the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) that the Eastern Front and legislators in the Red Sea region lodged a challenge for excluding Halayeb which was sustained.
Al-Asam stressed that all villages and areas of Halayeb triangle contain Sudanese citizens with constitutional rights under the color of law.
He added that the commission will deploy a mission to register voters in the region during the registration period saying that there are “measures undertaken by the government in this direction”.
Last year Egyptian authorities blocked Sudanese census agents from entering the region forcing them to exclude the region despite attempts to reverse Cairo’s decision.
At the time the Egyptian ambassador to Sudan told the pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper that Halayeb is a “closed subject”.
The dispute over the region started in 1958 for similar reasons when Egypt refused to allow Sudan to conduct elections in the region which prompted military buildup after which Sudan lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council (UNSC) that has been renewed ever since.
In 1995 tensions renewed after Egyptian and Sudanese security forces in the region killing and wounding soldiers on both sides.
Egypt has moved to assert it control over Halayeb triangle by building various projects and distributing ID cards to its local people. It has also rejected proposals by Sudan to resort to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve the matter with its Southern neighbor.
It is not clear what Egypt’s response might be to Sudan’s announcement. Both countries enjoy strong political and economic relations.
Cairo has backed the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir against an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for him and hosted him twice since then.
On the other hand Sudan allied with Egypt to stall demands by other Nile Basin to amend Water agreements, something which Cairo views as a “red line” as Egyptian officials described it.