AUC Chairperson Faki Mahamat

AU, IGAD Call for Restraint over ‘Escalating’ Ethiopia-Sudan Tensions

ADDIS ABABA –  Heads of the African Union Commission and the regional bloc IGAD have expressed their concern over ‘escalating’ border tension between Ethiopia and Sudan, calling for restraint.

AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and IGAD’s Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu voiced their concerns in separate statements both African organizations issued on Wednesday.

Mahamat appealed “for complete refrain from any military action whatever its origin” while Workneh called on the two countries to “avoid actions that can further heighten tensions.”

Both AU and IGAD heads have called for Ethiopia and Sudan to seek diplomatic means to find a lasting and sustainable solution.

The AUC Chairperson further noted that the recent border skirmishes “should not scuttle the diplomatic solutions being sought to resolve ongoing internal challenges in the two Member States.”

The border tension escalated after Sudanese forces crossed into Ethiopian territory and clashed with the local militias last week. The skirmish resulted in casualties from both sides including seven Sudanese soldiers.

Following the incident, Khartoum alleged the Ethiopian army executed the Sudanese soldiers – a claim dismissed by Ethiopia as “unfounded and baseless,” saying its troops were not even in the area at the time of the incident.

Sudanese military has already occupied several Ethiopian territories that its troops invaded soon after the conflict in northern Ethiopia broke out eighteen months ago. The Sudanese military invaded the area in a way that did not match the historical ties between the people of the two nations, a spokesperson of the Ethiopian army said on Tuesday. 

The latest skirmish, reports say, could feed into wider tensions over water between the neighbors, ahead of the third round of scheduled filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the current Ethiopian rainy season.

Sudan and Egypt, both downstream countries, have been opposing the construction of the Dam and often tried to pressure Ethiopia to get their agreement on the filling of its reservoir and operations.