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Sudan’s Bashir reiterates sovereignty over disputed border area of Halayeb

June 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir today brought the dispute with Egypt over a border area to the spotlight by stressing that his government will never forsake sovereignty over it.

An aerial view of Halayeb Triangle on Egypt-Sudan borders (Google Earth)

"Halayeb is Sudanese and will stay Sudanese" Bashir told crowds at the coastal town of Port Sudan marking the 21st anniversary of his military coup.

The remark by the Sudanese president is a rare one as he avoided public mention of the disagreement with Egypt over the area but generally referred to it as a possible integration zone between the two countries.

Sudan state media however, omitted any mention to this portion of Bashir’s speech.

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 full control over the area. Egypt rejects international arbitration to resolve the issue.

Sudan has avoided registering voters inside Halayeb for the elections which took place last April despite earlier assertions that the region was included as a constituency.

Relations between the neighboring countries appeared to have soured this month after the newly appointed foreign minister Ali Karti criticized Egypt saying its understanding of Sudan issues is minimal. Cairo asked Khartoum for clarifications regarding the statements attributed to Karti and secretly dispatched a delegation to defuse tension.

Egypt and Sudan are jointly fighting a major battle with other Nile basin countries that want reallocation of water shares stipulated by colonial agreements in 1929.

(ST)