October 19, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Al-Burhan’s one-day visit to Ethiopia was meant mainly to reassure the Ethiopian Prime Minister that Khartoum does not support the TPLF in its war against his government.
Burhan visits Ethiopia: During a visit to Ethiopia on October 15, the chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan gave a short speech at the 10th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa held in the city of Bahir Dar.
Burhan praised the organizers of the conference saying they organized a forum for deep discussions on Africa’s political and security issues that tackled their roots while also proposing solutions that are African, realistic, and applicable.
The Sudanese leader noted that this approach fulfils the motto of ‘African solutions to African problems.
Sudanese-Ethiopian bilateral meeting: Shortly after the speech, Burhan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held a two-hour meeting that focused on security issues that have lingered between the two countries and at times led to low-level military clashes which generated regional and international concern.
A Sudanese diplomatic source told Sudan Tribune that the previously scheduled visit to participate in the forum discussed “complex” security issues that proved contentious between the two neighbours.
The source disclosed that the Burhan-Ahmed meeting saw the Ethiopian side again raising accusations of support by Sudan to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels fighting the central government which was denied by Burhan.
Tigray factor: Abdel Moneim Abu-Idris, a Sudanese journalist and political analyst specializing in the Horn of Africa affairs told Sudan Tribune that prior to the visit the director of Sudanese intelligence Ahmed Ibrahim Mufaddal met with his Ethiopian counterpart and that these talks continued after Burhan’s visit to Addis Ababa.
“On the Ethiopian side, some of the representatives at the meeting with Burhan were from the Amhara region including the director of the intelligence service who was a former governor of the Amhara region along with the current governor of Amhara. The visit is of a security nature and linked to developments in the Tigray region because it preceded the major offensive launched by Ethiopia and Eritrea on some areas controlled by the TPLF which indicates that the visit has a very strong connection to what is happening in the region,” Abu-Idris said.
He added that it is unlikely that the border issue was brought up because it was previously agreed that it would be resolved through negotiations, noting that the Sudanese delegation did not include border experts.
In the same context, the Ethiopian journalist writer Anwar Ibrahim believes that the visit was expected to work on many files but what was published and confirmed, according to some sources, are discussions and pledges made by the two parties without deep discussions on issues such as the renaissance dam and the borders.
Ibrahim noted that there were no positive vibes that emerged from the talks saying “It may be the beginning of other visits, or there may be a visit from the Ethiopian side, and after that, we may expect positive results or push for deeper discussions.
Official statements: According to an official statement, the Sudanese and Ethiopian sides held joint discussions on bilateral relations and prospects for joint cooperation on the sidelines of the forum.
Al-Burhan stressed, during the joint talks with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, that the outstanding issues between the two countries can be resolved through dialogue, stressing Sudan’s keenness to maintain close relations with neighbouring Ethiopia.
He said that with regard to the issue of the Renaissance Dam, it is possible to reach an agreement on the technical issues of the dam. He welcomed the proposal of the Ethiopian Prime Minister regarding the establishment of economic integration between Ethiopia and Sudan.
For his part, the Ethiopian Prime Minister emphasized the special relationship with Sudan and underscored that the dam will bring great benefits to their neighbour and will not harm it.
The two sides agreed that all border problems should be resolved by peaceful means through specialized technical committees.
Spy chiefs talks: Last week, the Director of the Sudanese General Intelligence Service Lieutenant-General Ahmed Ibrahim Mufaddal visited the Ethiopian National Security and Intelligence Service headquarters.
According to the official statement, the visit was to prepare for Burhan’s participation in the Tana Forum and discussed during his meeting with his counterpart Temesgen Tiruneh the challenges facing the two countries.
Mufaddal affirmed Sudan’s adherence to its internationally recognized borders in accordance with the 1902 demarcation, pointing out that Sudan remained supportive of stability in Ethiopia without taking sides in the ongoing conflict. He categorically denied the existence of any TPLF camps within the Sudanese borders.
Mufaddal made it clear that Sudan’s foreign relations and interests with its regional surroundings and all countries of the world are based on Sudan’s strategic interests and not at the expense of other countries in the region.
He also called for finding solutions to the issues facing Sudanese investors in Ethiopia as well as citizens living in the respective countries.
For his part, Tiruneh stated that the people of the two countries have historical ties that have not been affected by political changes, adding that the benefits of the Dam are utilized in strengthening these relations,
He said that this cooperation will be used to reduce organized crime and threats in order to achieve security and stability in the two countries and to confront challenges in the region.