Ethiopia and Sudan opt for appeasement

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan sworn in as President of the new Sudanese Sovereign Council in Karthoum, August 21, 2019 (illustration image). SUDAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE / AFP

Text by: Sébastien Nemeth Follow

Ethiopia and Sudan are trying to calm the game after the border violence on Thursday. An Amhara militia, supported by the Ethiopian army, had entered Sudanese territory several times. Fighting broke out resulting in the deaths of at least one Sudanese officer and several civilians. Khartoum had punched in summoning the Ethiopian charge d'affaires in Sudan and announcing the dispatch of reinforcements to the border. But this Sunday, the two sides preferred to avoid escalation.


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From our correspondent in Nairobi,

Khartoum appeared to soften on Sunday, May 31, when an army spokesperson proposed joint patrols to ensure border security. In the process, Ethiopian diplomacy reached out, using a rhetoric of appeasement, speaking of necessary "cordial dialogue", by expressing its condolences to the victims. Finally, Addis-Abba proposed a joint investigation.

Ethiopian farmers have been planting crops on the Sudanese side for a long time. It is said that they were tolerated by the Sudanese power at the time, following an agreement between Omar el-Bashir and the Ethiopian leader, Méles Zenawi, in the 1990s. In return, the Ethiopian forces had to prevent the armed opposition Sudanese to find refuge in Ethiopia and use it as a base to launch attacks on Khartoum.

In any case, the situation changed with the fall of Omar el-Béchir. The current head of the Sovereign Council, General al-Burhan, seems to have a firmer position on the issue, especially since the officer has spent most of his career with border troops. Also, he may make it a personal matter.

In addition, the two countries do not seem to have any interest in an escalation, while very sensitive negotiations on the Renaissance dam, built by Ethiopia and which poisons relations in the region, could resume soon, after months of blocking.

► Read also: Border clashes between Ethiopia and Sudan

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  • Sudan