Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariamn Dessalegn said border demarcation between Ethiopia and Sudan would start in December, Sudan Tribune reported.
Previously, Ethiopia and Sudan reached an agreement to solve border disputes, patrol the area, and control human traffickers. The two sides have, however, been putting off the implementation of the agreement largely due to a strong objection it faced by Ethiopian farmers who would not to give up the land that they believed is legitimately theirs.
Border conflicts between Ethiopian and Sudanese farmers claimed lives from both sides. In October 2015, clashes at the Ethio-Sudanese border in El-Gadaref state claimed the lives of at least 16 Sudanese nationals. Two weeks earlier, eight Ethiopians were brutally executed by Sudanese bandits at the joint border in Fashaga area.
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Hailemariam Dessalegn, who held discussion with Sudanese Foreign Minister Kamal al-Din in Addis Ababa said that border demarcation would start in December 2015. Previous agreement signed by Hailemariam Dessalegn and Omar Hassan al-Bashir regarding the delineation of border between the two countries would now be implemented, according to Sudan Tribune. Critics say it is not clear on what historical ground the Ethiopian government agreed to implement the border demarcation.
Ethiopian scholars accuse their government of conspiring against its own citizens and favoring the Sudanese government, an ally of the Ethiopian rulers in their days as rebel fighters, by giving away huge tracts of fertile land and territory. Political analysts say Sudan must have agreed in return not to host Ethiopian rebel fighters that oppose the regime Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian government, in a way, admitted that it is giving away some of its territory to Sudan. In June 2015, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen said his government has returned the land Ethiopia occupied in 1896. He however did not give details about the location and size of the land that was returned to Sudan.
Analysts say it is likely that a 100 years old colonial agreement reached between Italy and Great Britain may have been used as a historical benchmark to delineate the border between the two countries. Ethiopians say the agreement should not be implemented for two reasons: first, Ethiopia did not participate when the colonial powers agreed to delineate the border, and second, the agreement did not take Ethiopia’s current interest into consideration.
Ethiopian scholars said the agreement that is based on colonial treaties would harm Ethiopia’s interest and may give millions of acres of Ethiopia’s land to Sudan.
The fate of Ethiopian settlers who cultivate the fertile land is not clear. Reports indicate that in eastern part of El Gedaref state alone, more than 2,000 Ethiopian farmers now cultivate the land.
The Ethiopian government has so far been mute regarding the land controversies as well as the numerous skirmishes between Ethiopian farmers and Sudanese soldiers.