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Ethiopia-Sudan tensions rise amid regional mediation offers

Dina Mufti welcomed Turkish mediation efforts [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 February, 2021

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Turkey and the African Union have stepped up efforts to calm tensions between Addis Abada and Khartoum.
Ethiopia would welcome the Turkish government's mediation on the recent border conflict with Sudan, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said this week, amid regional efforts to deescalate tensions between Addis Abada and Khartoum. 

Dina Mufti told the Turkish Anadolu News Agency that the Ethiopian-Sudanese border conflict could be solved through diplomatic means.

"Without exaggerating, we now have a great relationship with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan, despite the unfortunate borders situation that is created the other day," said Mufti.

"The relationship in the north is changing for good. However, we need to cooperate in this regard," he added.

Ethiopia and Sudan's relations have worsened over clashes in the Al-Fashaqa Al-Soghra area of eastern Sudan.

Sudan accuses the Ethiopian army of supporting what it describes as "militias," which Addis Ababa denies. Ethiopia says that the "militias" are in fact "outlaw groups".

Along with Egypt, Khartoum has also criticised Addis Abada’s building of the Great Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river, which it fears could cut off its access to the Nile’s waters.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned what it called Khartoum’s provocative behaviour on the issue of the border with Ethiopia.

It said that any conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan would only lead to serious collateral damage and endanger the well-being of the two countries.

A potential conflict could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry added, blaming the Sudanese military for heightening the risk of conflict. 

In a development related to the situation on the border with Ethiopia, Sudan's deputy chief of staff for operations Abdullah al-Bashir said that any Sudanese territory outside state control should return to its authority.

Al-Bashir added that the Sudanese army's combat doctrine is not based on aggression or occupation of the land of others.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic source told Al Jazeera that the President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, had submitted an initiative to contain the border crisis between the two countries.

The source linked this to a recent meeting between African Union political advisor Mohamed Lapat Khartoum with the president of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, where he handed him a written letter from Faki. The details of the letter were not disclosed.

However, the source said that the President of the African Commission seeks to contain the escalating crisis between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

The African Union last August mediated talks over Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam, which achieved little to alleviate tensions over the Nile.  

Sudan on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia.

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