(Source: Sudan Tribune, Khartoum, 26 February 2021) –
The official Sudan News Agency “SUNA” Friday published two speeches of the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, in which he affirmed that there is no border dispute with Sudan after accusing Ethiopian “shufta” or bandits of causing troubles with the neighbouring country.
After the eruption of the border standoff last year, the Amhara dominated government in Addis Ababa angered Sudanese officials when they spoke about the border demarcation rejecting all the previous internationally recognized agreements.
SUNA on Friday published two extracts of speeches about the strong relations with Sudan and harmful activities of the Amhara militiamen to the House of Peoples’ Representatives, the lower chamber of the Ethiopian parliament in 2013 and 2014 by Hailemariam Desalegn who served as Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 2012 to 2018.
In his statements, Desalegn who took office following the death of his close friend and ally Meles Zenawi stressed that his country signed several border demarcation agreements with Sudan.
“We have to prevent it (the militiamen) from harming our interests. We have Ethiopian farmers who cultivate large areas on Sudanese lands,” he said.
“We asked Sudan not to prevent or harm our farmers and Ethiopian businessmen who benefit from these areas until the demarcation markers positioned, and they pledged to do that,” he added.
Zenawi after the war with Eritrea consolidated his relations with the former Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir who had been already under international isolation. Desalegn kept the same political orientation.
The Sudanese media further released the second extract of another speech delivered by the former Prime Minister Desalegn on 27 April 2014 before the lower chamber where spoke about the strategic relations between the two countries and the 13 cooperation agreements between the two neighbours signed in December 2013.
The 13 agreement include the placement of demarcation markers, a framework agreement on trade, economy and technical cooperation agreements on legal assistance in criminal issues, aviation services, local and decentralized governance, passenger services, security issues, and railways.
Further, the two countries agreed to cooperate in areas of combating human trafficking, woman, youth, and children, banking, customs as well as the executive programmes on youth and general education.
“These agreements have nothing to do with the borders that we talked about before (…) They are beneficial to both sides, and we will continue to strive to activate it. This does not mean the cancellation of previous agreements signed during the reign of Emperor Menelik II, Emperor Haile Selassie, or in the era of the Revolutionary Democratic Front for the Ethiopian Peoples,” he said.
“These are international agreement legally binding, and there are no new agreements replacing it (…). We would like to make it clear and stress that there are no new agreements (in this respect) that we have signed”.
The influential Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen during a visit to Khartoum in December 2020 proposed during a meeting of the joint political committee to form a committee to negotiate border demarcation.
The Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ambassador Dina Mufti used recently to call to withdraw Sudanese troops from the international border between the two countries saying they are deployed within Ethiopian territory.