Diplomatic talks by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) have diffused political tension between Sudan and Ethiopia, allowing the two countries to focus on managing their internal crises.
An Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State in Nairobi this week resulted in commitments to dialogue rather than military action.
Skirmishes over a historical border saw seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian killed late last month. The Igad Summit did not resolve the long running border problem, however.
In a communique, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudanese leader Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan “underscored the need to collaboratively address and diplomatically tackle national political and security related issues that bear greater ramification on the Igad region”.
Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs-in-charge Ali Al-Sadiq said the talks covered issues such as drought, terrorism and cross-border violence, and agreed to intensify “co-operation between the states member to face these challenges together”.
The meeting came after weeks of border tension in the Al-Fashqa area. Khartoum summoned its ambassador in Addis Ababa, Jamal Al-Sheikh, and submitted a complaint to the UN Security Council about the incident. In return, Ethiopia suggested that Sudan conduct a joint investigation.
The Summit said the Sudan crisis will be mediated by Igad, the AU and the UN, but will be “Sudanese led”.
On Ethiopia’s conflict in Tigray, the leaders said they are ready to support efforts to bring lasting peace to the region.
This follows the Ethiopian government’s establishment of a special committee to spearhead talks with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front rebels.
On matters South Sudan, the Igad leaders lauded the “progress made so far in the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict of the Republic of South Sudan” signed between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar in 2018.
Vincent Owino and Mawahib Abdallatif