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Egypt inaugurates customs office in contested Halayeb region:MP

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Halayed Triangle (Stratfor copyright)

March 7, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Member of Parliament for Halayeb district in Sudan’s National Assembly said the Egyptian authorities have opened a customs office in Hadarba area in the contested region.

The border triangle area of Halayeb, Abu Ramad and Shalateen, which is a 20,580 km area on the Red Sea, has been a contentious issue between Egypt and Sudan since 1958, shortly after Sudan gained its independence from the British-Egyptian rule in January 1956.

The area has been under Cairo’s full military control since the mid-1990’s following a Sudanese-backed attempt to kill the former Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.

The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) quoted MP Ahmed Issa Omer as saying Egypt continues its escalatory moves and efforts to Egyptionize the Halayeb area.

He pointed out that the Egyptian authorities have inaugurated an office at Hadaraba area to collect customs from the residents of the triangle.

Issa further said the residents of the region are still unwilling to register their names with the Egyptian civil registry office which was inaugurated recently in Halayeb.

Last December, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced that it would build a dam in Wadi Hodein, Shalateen area, to benefit from rainwater and floods.

Egypt continued to reject Sudan’s repeated calls for referring the dispute to international arbitration.

In April 2016, Cairo refused a demand by the Sudanese government to hold direct talks on Halayeb and Shalateen or to accept the referral of the dispute to the International Court of Arbitration.

The international law provides that the agreement of the two parties is needed to arbitrate a dispute with the tribunal.

In July last year, Sudan filed a notice with the UN, claiming that Egypt is occupying the triangle, and refusing to claim any rights for a third party.

In the same month, Cairo announced it would start oil and gas exploration in the Red Sea province, including the Halayeb triangle.

Tensions between Sudan and Egypt have escalated lately, due to several issues, including contention over their border, and Sudan’s support for Ethiopia in negotiations over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Cairo says will hurt its water needs.

Following a meeting held on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January, al-Bashir and his counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed the tensions between the two courtiers and agreed to form a quadripartite committee to develop a roadmap to restore the relationship to the right track.

The quadripartite committee including the foreign ministers and heads of intelligence from both countries met late last month in Cairo and agreed on a number of technical measures to diffuse the tensions.

(ST)

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