Ethiopian leader sounds conciliatory note on tension with Sudan

Abiy Ahmed tweets that third parties were trying to divide the two neighbours, after claims of executions

Tensions have risen over claims against Ethiopian troops. Reuters.
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday sought to defuse tension with neighbouring Sudan, saying third parties he did not identify wanted them at war.

The conciliatory comment by Mr Abiy followed a claim by Sudan on Monday that Ethiopian troops executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian they held captive.

Addis Ababa said the eight men were killed in a skirmish on Ethiopian soil.

Sudan responded by recalling its ambassador in Addis Ababa and summoned Ethiopia's envoy in Khartoum to protest against the killings.

Residents and civilian officials in eastern Sudan near the border with Ethiopia later said that Sudanese forces shelled the border region on Monday.

At the heart of the long-running border dispute between the two nations is Fashaqa, a fertile strip of land that has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers.

The dispute flared into deadly clashes between the two countries’ forces over the past 18 months.

“There are many problems between Sudan and Ethiopia but we must stand together and co-operate in dealing with them and to solve the problems,” Mr Abiy said in a tweet.

“There are many who want us to slip into fighting each other, but these parties, whether governments or others, will make no gain from igniting differences between our two peoples.

“For us, peace between our two people and mutual trust is our choice.”

The latest flare-up in the border dispute feeds into a larger conflict between the two nations.

Sudan, like fellow downstream nation Egypt, wants Ethiopia to enter a legally binding agreement on the operation of a large hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, less than 20 kilometres from the Sudanese border.

Ethiopia maintains that guidelines should be enough.

Updated: June 29, 2022, 9:09 PM