Border committee to settle demarcation issue

The Sudanese-Ethiopian border committee will present an agreement to a joint ministerial meeting to be held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between 30 April and 3 May. The recently established Sudanese-Ethiopian committee had been commended for its “positive results” by Sudanese Foreign Minister Dr Mustafa Uthman Isma’il, official Sudanese television said on Wednesday. Isma’il held talks with the governor of Al-Qadarif State, northeastern Sudan, Prof Al-Amin Daf’allah, who heads the Sudanese side of the committee. The governor of Al-Qadarif said the two sides had agreed on a number of issues, particularly border trade, customs duty, and security.

Sudan and Ethiopia were eager to “develop and integrate” Al-Qadarif State with Tigray State in northern Ethiopia, an official Sudanese source said. The two regions were agriculturally productive, with Al-Qadarif, considered to be the “bread basket” of Sudan, producing some 60 percent of the nation’s sorghum, the source said. The existing road from Al-Qadarif to Mekele, the capital of Tigray, is being repaired and upgraded. Free movement of people and goods has been encouraged. Plans for Ethiopia to provide Al-Qadarif State with electric power were being considered, the source said. The official said Tigray State would benefit through having better access to the Red Sea, as the road to Al-Qadarif connected to Port Sudan. “That makes Port Sudan closer to Mekele than the Eritrean port of Massawa or the Somali port of Berbera,” the official said. Tigray State used the Eritrean port of Massawa until the Ethiopian-Eritrean border war began in 1998.

The colonial border between northern Sudan and Ethiopia was “not demarcated”, and some areas, including plantations, had been disputed between the two countries, the official explained. Good relations between Ethiopia and Sudan had encouraged the two countries to settle the issue at this time, with a joint committee headed by the governors of the two states, the official said.