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Hamdok Urges Parties to Conflict in Ethiopia to Hold Dialogue, End Fight

Hamdok Urges Parties to Conflict in Ethiopia to Hold Dialogue, End Fight

Monday, 5 July, 2021 - 08:00
Ethiopian army prisoners held by the Tigrayan forces during a parade in Mekelle on Friday (Reuters)

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called on the conflicting parties in Ethiopia to end the fighting and engage in a negotiation process “for a comprehensive national dialogue.”

Hamdok stressed that his country will provide all support to Ethiopia to overcome its current crisis.

The Sudanese government held a high-level meeting, which included the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi to discuss the latest developments in Ethiopia.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the regional authority drove out last year by Ethiopian forces and troops from neighboring Eritrea, returned to the region's capital Mekelle.

Hamdok said on his Facebook page that he agrees with the United Nations Security Council meeting in early July on Ethiopia, especially positions of the African countries, on the consolidation of a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Tigray region.

After the high-level meeting, Sudan expressed its deep concern over these developments, warning it might impact regional stability. It stressed the importance of facilitating humanitarian aid access to those affected by the conflict and declared that it would work closely with neighboring countries and the international community to achieve stability.

The government said it will spare no effort to work with all Ethiopian parties to reach a consensus that enhances the country’s unity in accordance with the vision decided by the Ethiopians.

A senior Sudanese government official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, expressed his fear that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would deploy his troops at the border “to turn his defeat in the Tigray region into a victory.”

The media advisor to the Prime Minister, Faisal Mohamed Salih, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sudanese government supports the efforts of the African Union (AU) or Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to resolve the conflict between the Ethiopian parties.

“The current situation in Ethiopia is very worrying and dangerous, and this may not be the end of the conflict,” said the spokesman, referring to Tigray’s possible declaration of independence.

He explained that Sudan has determined its position on developments in Ethiopia by calling on all parties to resort to negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Ethiopia had previously rejected the Sudanese Prime Minister's efforts to mediate in the Tigray conflict and had also shut the door on any mediation by the AU or IGAD.

Political science professor Bashir al-Sharif said the Sudanese Prime Minister wants to establish strategic relations with Ethiopia, regardless of differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Sharif added that the regional and international situation realizes the necessity of ending the intra-Ethiopian conflict through the negotiating table, warning that prolonging it may spark a war that will affect Eritrea and spread to neighboring countries and the entire Horn of Africa.

Sudan's good relations with the Ethiopian parties, and its official position on the necessity of a peaceful solution, are pushing towards negotiated solutions, according to the expert.

Following the outbreak of war between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray region in November 2020, the Sudanese army deployed its forces on the border to protect its territory and prevent military operations.

The Sudanese army regained control of more than 90 percent of its territory, including the al-Fashqa region, which was occupied by Ethiopia, prompting Addis Ababa to accuse Khartoum of exploiting the domestic situation for its benefit.

Sudan confirms its ownership of these lands in accordance with an agreement signed between the two countries in 1902 and refuses to retreat its forces from the areas it regained control over after many years.

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