12 January 2018

Sudan: Khartoum Buffs Up Security - 'Eritrea, Egypt Threaten Borders'

Photo: Morgan Mbabazi/The East African
Sudanese President Omar al Bashir

Khartoum / Kassala — Khartoum has officially announced its preparation for "security threats" from its neighbour Eritrea after military movements in the area adjacent to Sudan's Kassala state. The border remains closed.

On Thursday, presidential assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud told reporters that the presidency "directed to continue security arrangements on the eastern Sudan borders, after being briefed about possible threats from Egypt and Eritrea in the region of Sawa".

The border between Sawa (Kassala) and Eritrea has been closed since last week and Sudan deployed a large contingent of Rapid Support Forces - their exact number has not been reported. Kassala has been in a State of Emergency starting December, which coincides with Sudan's collection campaign of illegal weapons.

Speaking after a meeting of the National Congress Party (NCP), Mahmoud explained that they also discussed security threats from Egypt following the recall of the Sudanese ambassador from Cairo on 4 January by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the past weeks, relations have been soured by disputes over the ownership of the Halayeb  Triangle border area, and over the use of the water from the River Nile that passes through their territories. Cairo did not take any reciprocal action in response to the recall of the Sudanese ambassador to Khartoum, which cited the recall was needed for the purpose of consulting.

On Thursday, the ambassador of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Khartoum, Lissan Johannes, announced that outstanding peace negotiations between Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), led by Abdelaziz El Hilu, are to resume in February.

The peace talks on South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been stalled for months. In the meantime, Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir has extended the unilateral ceasefire in the areas, and also the SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu in South Kordofan declared a ceasefire for the period of six months on 2 August. The warring parties have accused each other more than once of violating the ceasefires.

Ibrahim Mahmoud, who is the head of the negotiating delegation for Khartoum, met with the IGAD ambassador and conveyed to him their readiness to resume the negotiations on the 'Two Areas'.

Johannes said that the El Hilu faction of the SPLM-N has also expressed its readiness to sit at the negotiating table during the first week of February. The first round of negotiations will focus on a cessation of hostilities, to be followed by a round of political negotiations, Johannes said.


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