By John Ikani
Sudan has announced the reopening of the border crossing with Ethiopia in an effort to build confidence and resolve disputes between the two countries.
“As part of the endeavors by the leadership in the two countries to address the border issues, the security and defense council decided to open the Galabat border crossing as of today,” Sudan’s Security and Defense Council said in a statement on Sunday.
After the collapse of the al-Bashir regime in April 2019, relations between Sudan and Ethiopia remained strained due to cross-border conflict by the Amhara militiamen. Accordingly, the Sudanese authorities closed and reopened the strategic crossing several times.
The Sudanese military also said the country would “intensify” the monitoring of its frontier with Ethiopia to prevent the cross-border movement of armed groups.
This was apparently a reference to anti-government rebels from Ethiopia’s Tigray province, who are known to use Sudanese territory as a safe haven and engage in cross-border arms trafficking.
Sunday’s decision followed a meeting earlier this month in Nairobi between Sudan’s military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The two nations later issued upbeat statements saying the leaders agreed to take steps to improve relations and resolve a long-running border dispute.
That dispute is centred on Fashaqa, a fertile border area in eastern Sudan that is claimed by Khartoum but which has for decades been settled by Ethiopian farmers protected by a local militia.