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Sudan, Ethiopia to discuss implementation of border agreements

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A checkpoint in Metema in north-western Ethiopia, next to the border with Sudan. The town is a centre of a booming trade in migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea. (AP Photo)
February 15, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - A joint meeting between Sudanese and Ethiopian officials would be held on 23 February to discuss ways to combat cross-border crime and implement agreements to end border encroachments.

The governor of Sennar State, Abdel-Karim Musa, said he recently discussed with the Ethiopian Ambassador to Khartoum, Shiferaw Jarso, ways to secure the border between his state and neighbouring Ethiopian regions.

He told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) the meeting also discussed the situation of the Ethiopian community in Sennar as well as ways to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, Abdel-Karim said the meeting discussed recent border encroachments, pointing out that some Ethiopian farmers have cultivated lands at El-Dinder National Park in violation of the agreements signed between the two countries.

For his part, the Ethiopian Ambassador said a meeting between experts from both countries would be held to resolve the border issues through the border demarcation committee.

He also praised the role of the Sudanese army in maintaining security on the joint border between the two countries.

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)

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