Negates AU stance to end military rule in Sudan
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has requested the African Union (AU) to lift the suspension place on Sudan and reinstate the East African country as a member of the Union. A request has also been made to send a fact-finding mission to Sudan.
Sudan is the current chair of IGAD. Foreign ministers of the IGAD members convened in Khartoum for the 48th Ordinary Session on November 30, 2022. Demeke Mekonnen, the deputy PM and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, was also among the participants.
During this event, IGAD members proposed restoring Sudan’s AU membership. IGAD’s Heads of State and Government also decided to make Arabic one of the organization’s official languages at their most recent meeting in Khartoum.
The AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) suspended Sudan’s membership in June 2019, following the coup d’état on April 11, 2019. Since then, the AU has maintained its stance that Sudan remains suspended until a civilian-led transitional authority is established in Sudan.
The AU also threatened sanctions if Sudan’s military rule, led by Abdel Fattah Al Burhan (Gen.), did not hand over power to a civilian government. The Council also demanded concrete proposals on the modalities for an investigation into the deadly events that took place since June 3, 2019.
Hundreds of civilians have died as a result of security forces’ actions against civilian protestors, which have continued despite mounting pressure. Al-Burhan’s military government, for its part, has continued to postpone power transfer for various reasons.
While AU maintain serious stance towards the situation in Sudan, IGAD member states reacted to the opposite, and wants to free Sudan from continental and international measurements. On December 1, 2022, Alfred Mutua (PhD), cabinet secretary of Kenya offered to request the AU to send fact-finding mission to Sudan to evaluate the current situation in Sudan with a view to lift sanctions that are hurting the majority of Sudanese people. But easing the external pressures, on the other hand, can further empower the military rule in Sudan.
While the IGAD request negates the AU’s stance, experts say that the reinstatement of Sudan is critical to solve the border conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Sudanese military forces have occupied Ethiopian territory along the Al-Fashga borderline since December 2020, just a month after war broke out between the federal government of Ethiopia and the TPLF.
In July 2022, fighting was reported between the militaries of Sudan and Ethiopia in the disputed border area. However, the conflict was de-escalated after IGAD facilitated a bilateral consultation between Al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) on the sidelines of the 39th Extraordinary Assembly of IGAD Heads of State and Government in Nairobi. However, a long-term solution between Sudan and Ethiopia has remained elusive.
The two countries have recently agreed to peacefully resolve the border issue as well as the hydropolitics surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“Ethiopia and Sudan reached a fresh agreement on December 1, 2022 to peacefully resolve issues and enhance bilateral cooperation. The renewed agreement was reached after Demeke Mekonen, and the vice president of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC), Lt-Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, met in Khartoum. The two officials met on the sidelines of IGAD ministerial council meeting,” stated the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To that end, IGAD adopted “African Solutions to African Problems,” which aided the AU in bringing the two-year war between Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to an end.
“Unless both Sudan and Ethiopia are members of the AU, the AU cannot solve the border issue through the AU Border Program,” a political analyst who spoke to The Reporter said. “Al-Burhan wants the border conflict with Ethiopia to export the domestic crisis. But since Ethiopia is currently stable after the war in Tigray is over, Ethiopia wants to solve the case with Sudan right now.”
The analyst believes Sudan has no option but to normalize ties with Ethiopia.
“However, Sudan will not immediately hand over the occupied land unless Sudan and Ethiopia reach an agreement.”