What’s behind the Sudanese – Egyptian tensions?
BY AHRAM ONLINE
Egypt’s foreign ministry announced an agreement between Egypt and Sudan that would fix problems faced by citizens of both countries over the past months, regarding residency, freedom of movement and visa costs, Arabic Ahram website reported, citing a statement from the ministry.
The agreement came out of an urgent meeting of the joint Egyptian-Sudanese consulate committee at the Egyptian foreign ministry headquarters in Cairo, attended by representatives of both countries.
The meeting covered the return of confiscated property to Sudanese miners who were pardoned by the Egyptian president in August 2015, after they were previously arrested. The parties also agreed to rush the return of that property — including mining equipment — over the Egyptian-Sudanese border.
Sudanese newspapers reported that 37 Sudanese miners were arrested in Egypt in March 2015 on charges related to illegal entry into Egypt.
Egyptian officials stressed during the meeting that “any Sudanese person who has been living in Egypt since before 1995 is treated here like an Egyptian citizen”.
The statement added that “both sides agreed to continue visa exemptions for diplomatic and special passport holders,” along with women and citizens above 50 and below 16 from the two countries.
The visa exemptions will also cover Egyptian and Sudanese citizens who have valid residency in the Gulf, US, Canada, European countries and Australia.
Both sides agreed to provide six-month visas free of charge to male, regular passport holders, which can be renewed for another six months.
Both sides stressed that citizens should renew their residencies on time, and agreed to consider cancelling retroactive fees for people currently residing in either country who have overstayed their visas.
In April, Sudan began requiring Egyptian men aged 18 to 49 to apply for visas in order to enter the country.
While Egyptians could previously enter Sudan without a visa under a deal signed between the two countries in 2004, in practice Sudanese nationals had to obtain visas before entering Egypt.
In 2004, Egypt and Sudan signed the Four Freedoms Agreement, which said that Egyptian and Sudanese citizens could move freely between the two countries to reside, work and own property in either nation without a visa.