16 January 2018

Africa: Sudan Deploys Troops to Eritrea Border Amid Tension With Egypt

Sudan has deployed more forces on its border with Eritrea amid rising tension in the Red Sea region.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour cited security threats on its eastern border.

"Sudan's national army has sent forces to this area to protect Sudan's security. We have information that some entities are targeting us," he said after meeting his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu in Khartoum on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Sudan closed its border with its eastern neighbour and sent troops to the frontier amid reports that Egypt had deployed troops in Eritrea. Khartoum also recalled its ambassador to Cairo following the reports.

Mr Ghandour said there was a "security threat to our territories from the eastern border" and that that was "why we are anticipating whatever danger can come from there".

Sudan and Egypt have had long-running disputes over a border area --with each country claiming ownership-- and the use of the Nile River.

The latest tension between the two countries was sparked during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visit to Sudan in December that saw Khartoum lease the Red Sea city of Suakin to Ankara.

Egypt, which has had sour relations with Turkey, criticised Sudan and claimed the move was a threat to its national security and that of the Red Sea region.

Turkey plans to build a naval dock in Suakin and rebuild the ruined Ottoman port city on Sudan's Red Sea coast.

Ethiopian dam

Meanwhile, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt have a long-standing dispute over the waters of Nile River that passes through its territories which escalated when Addis Ababa began building Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam on the Nile.

Egypt fears the dam will restrict the waters flowing downstream to its territory and accuses Sudan of supporting the Ethiopian $4.8 billion project.

Khartoum accuses Egypt of backing rebels in Sudan.

Ethiopian Foreign minister Workneh Gebeyehu Sunday urged Khartoum and Cairo to refrain from escalating tensions.

"We hope that if there is any escalation, it will be downed through negotiation and through peaceful means" he said.

He also dismissed reports that Egypt had requested that Sudan be excluded from the Nile and Ethiopian dam negotiations.

"The issue of the dam and the issue of the Nile is the issue of the three countries and we should work together. If any misunderstanding arises we resolve it together," Mr Workneh said.

"This is the agreement among these countries and we will continue to work together," he added.

Mr Workneh is expected to visit Cairo for negotiations later this month.

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