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Ethiopia welcomes Juba’s border mediation appeal, urges neutrality

Daily Nation

Sudan and Ethiopia have welcomed South Sudan’s efforts to mediate their border dispute, with Ethiopia asking the Juba team to prioritise neutrality during the talks.

Addressing members of the press in Juba over the weekend, Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson, Dina Mufti, said the country welcomes South Sudan’s appeal to mediate the dispute.

“Ethiopia emphasises that the border issue, which has been there for a long time, should be handled by the different mechanisms that the two countries were engaged in. Ethiopia is always ready to negotiate and solve the issue peacefully,” the ambassador said.

“The dispute should be solved peacefully, as war is not helpful at all. My country is calling on our Sudanese brothers and sisters to look at the big picture, which is peace and tranquility in the region, and focus on development.”

Unilateral demarcation

According to Amb. Dina, the two countries’ border agreement was signed between Ethiopia and the British Colonial Administration.

However, the British (Major Gwynn) conducted a demarcation exercise unilaterally, without the presence of the Ethiopian side.

Dina said that in 1972, the two sides exchanged notes to renegotiate and re-demarcate the border, while maintaining the status quo, in order to settle the matter amicably..

“The countries have been on the right track in establishing relevant joint committees/commissions. However, there is no reason for Sudan to violate the status quo at this time” Dina said.

“This belligerence on the Sudanese side does not reflect the longstanding relations between the two countries, and Ethiopia is asking Sudan to respect the status quo.

“We are also asking our friends and partners to impress upon the Sudanese authorities to that effect.  Ethiopia believes our Sudanese brothers and sisters will heed to our requests for the issue to be settled peacefully.”

Sudan’s condemnation

On Sunday, Sudan condemned Ethiopian forces for their new “aggression” on Sudanese lands, without providing the specific time.

“Sudan condemns the aggression of Ethiopian forces on the lands legally belonging to Sudan, which was a direct violation of Sudan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the Sudanese foreign ministry in a statement.

The Ethiopian aggression was also “a violation of the values of neighborliness and positive interaction among countries that enhances stability and security,” the ministry added.

It demanded Ethiopia immediately stop its encroachment on Sudanese territories and ensure completion of the re-demarcation of the borders as agreed upon, while holding Ethiopia fully responsible for the consequences of its “aggression.”

Since September 2020, the border between Sudan and Ethiopia has been witnessing rising tensions and skirmishes between the two sides.

Sudan accuses Ethiopian famers, backed by armed forces, of seizing Sudanese border lands in Sudan’s Fashaga area and cultivating them since 1995.

The border area of Fashaga between Sudan and Ethiopia, one of the five localities of Sudan’s Gadaref State, often witnesses deadly attacks by Ethiopian militias during the preparation for agricultural season.

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