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Halayeb triangle excluded from Sudan voter registration: report

November 1, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – A disputed border area between Sudan and Egypt will not be included in the voters registration process currently underway.

The Al-Sudani newspaper quoted sources saying that Halayeb triangle will be excluded from the process which started today and will last a month ahead of the general election scheduled for April 2010.

Last month, Sudan’s electoral commission took the highly unexpected step and announced that the residents of the Red Sea border area of Halayeb will be allowed to register as voters in the elections.

The board declared that all villages and areas of Halayeb triangle contain Sudanese citizens with constitutional rights under the color of law.

Egyptian officials on background reacted warning that the matter is a “red line” yet affirming that it will not cause any strain in relationship between the two countries.

This week the Sudanese presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail downplayed the dispute saying that the region should be one of “integration” between the two countries.

“We believe that Halayeb and other [areas] should be solved in this context meaning that there are no borders between the two countries” Ismail told reporters in Cairo.

The remarks contradict those made by Sudanese presidential assistant, Musa Mohammed Ahmed last month who called for the dispute be transferred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Halayeb triangle that overlooks the Red Sea has been a source of tension between the two countries as early as 1958, shortly after Sudan gained independence from British-Egyptian rule.

The border issue was laid to rest until the 1990’s when relations between the two countries worsened over accusations that Sudan is harboring Islamic militant groups seeking to overthrow the Egyptian regime.

A failed attempt on the life of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was blamed on Khartoum after which Cairo moved to assert control over the area.