Sudan recalls ambassador to Ethiopia after mediation offer rejected

Sudan recalls ambassador to Ethiopia after mediation offer rejected

By Syndicated Content

By Khalid Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – (whbl)—Sudan recalled its ambassador to neighbouring Ethiopia on Sunday, frustrated by the stance of Ethiopian officials whom it said were refusing Sudan’s offer to mediate in the ongoing conflict in Tigray.

“Ethiopia will improve its position if it considered what Sudan could do. ..instead of completely rejecting all of its efforts,” a statement from the foreign ministry read.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday about the conflict in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, which has led to an influx of 53,400 refugees since late 2020.

Hamdok’s offer came within the framework of his presidency of IGAD, a grouping that includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, the statement said.

Spokespeople for the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs and the prime minister did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sudan recalling its ambassador.

On Thursday the prime minister’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, dismissed the possibility of Sudan mediating on the conflict in the northern region of Tigray.

She described the relationship with Khartoum as “a little bit tricky” and said trust should be the basis of any mediation but had “eroded” especially following the “Sudanese army incursion into Ethiopian territory.”

Relations have been soured by disputes over Al-Fashqa, an area of fertile land settled by Ethiopian farmers that Sudan says lies on its side of a border demarcated at the start of the 20th century, which Ethiopia rejects.

The border tensions come at a time when Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are also trying to resolve a three-way row over Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Sudan orders envoy to Ethiopia home amid frayed ties

CAIRO (AP) — (theintelligencer)—-Sudan said Sunday it ordered its envoy to Ethiopia home for consultations after a government spokeswoman in Addis Ababa rejected a Sudanese initiative to mediate a cease-fire in the Tigray war and accused it of occupying Ethiopian territory.

The move announced in a Foreign Ministry statement was the latest sign of deteriorating ties between the African neighbors. The tensions began after Sudan deployed troops late last year to the fertile al-Fashaqa border area it says was occupied for over two decades by Ethiopian farmers and militias.

Billene Seyoum, spokesperson for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said Thursday that ties with Sudan have been “a little bit tricky” and accused Khartoum of occupying Ethiopian territory — a reference to al-Fashaqa. She said Sudan was not a “credible party” to facilitate negotiations between Ahmed’s government and Tigray leaders.

The conflict erupted in Tigray in November after a falling out between Ahmed and the Tigray ruling party that had dominated Ethiopia’s government for nearly three decades. The growing war has threatened to destabilize the entire Horn of Africa.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s initiative aims at encouraging Ethiopian parties to reach a comprehensive cease-fire and to engage in political dialogue to “preserve Ethiopia’s integrity and stability.”

“Sudan’s interest in resolving the Tigray region’s conflict is part of its commitment to regional peace and stability,” the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from Ethiopia on Sunday.

In February, Sudan ordered Ambassador Gamal al-Sheikh home from Ethiopia after it accused Ethiopian troops of crossing into Sudan and warned of “grave repercussions” on the region’s security and stability. Al-Sheikh returned to Addis Ababa weeks later.

The Tigray war has killed thousands of people and pushed the area to the brink of famine. More than 60,000 people have also fled Tigray and taken refuge in Sudan.

The decades-long border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia centers on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders in the al-Fashaqa area, according an agreement that demarcated the borders between the two nations in the early 1900s.

The two nations have held rounds of talks, most recently in Khartoum in December, to settle the dispute, but have not made progress.

The dispute has escalated in recent months after Sudan deployed troops to al-Fashaqa. Sudan said it reclaimed most of its territory and called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points it says are inside Sudan.

Ethiopian officials, however, accused Sudan of taking advantage of the Tigray conflict region to enter Ethiopian territory. It has called for Sudanese troops to return to their positions before the Tigray fighting erupted in November.