East African nations gathered at the Djibouti summit this week adopted a resolution, vowing to compel Sudan’s warring generals to the dialogue table in hopes of ending the devastating war.
Sudan’s deadly internal conflict has now displaced nearly 1.4 million people since two rival generals began fighting in April, according to estimates by the UN. As of May 23, at least 730 people had been killed and around 5,500 others injured in the violence, according to Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health.
Leaders of the eight-member Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met this week in Djibouti and pledged to use their diplomatic influence to bring Sudan’s opposing military leaders to negotiations.
Sudan dominated discussions at the 14th IGAD Heads of State summit, from opening speeches to final resolutions.
At the June 12 Djibouti summit, IGAD countries—aiming to end Sudan’s ruinous war—adopted a firm resolution urging the two Sudanese military leaders to abandon hostilities, come to the negotiating table in “good faith,” and work toward a lasting peace agreement.
The summit tasked four countries, including Ethiopia, with taking responsibility for finding a solution. The quartet of countries—Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia—will bring representatives of the two warring parties to the negotiating table in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by next week.
“There is a plan for the representatives to meet in Addis Ababa in 10 days,” the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Meles Alem (Amb.), told journalists on June 15, 2023.
The decision was made during the assembly of the heads of states on Monday, which Meles called one of the most historic decisions. “Ethiopia has long been making efforts for Sudan’s peace,” Meles said.
Meles mentioned the negotiation role Ethiopia played for Sudan during the political turmoil in 2019, a year after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) took power. He took pride as he listed the number of times Ethiopia had been a base for peaceful negotiations of opposing parties in Sudan.
Better known as the Addis Ababa Accord of 1972, the last king of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I also mediated between the then Sudan government and Southern Sudan Liberation Movement.
“Even the former Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn had great roles in sustaining peace in Sudan,” the spokesperson said.
During a briefing after the summit, the President of Kenya, William Ruto (PhD), said that through the four countries Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (Gen.) and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Gen.) “will meet face to face in the next 10 days.”
“This will be a face to face engagement so that we can speak to them directly on behalf of IGAD and with the view of stopping the war that is raging in Sudan,” Ruto said.
Saving civilian lives and rebuilding infrastructure shattered by war, as well as securing open access for aid, will top the agenda of IGAD-mediated negotiations, leaders hope.
The Kenyan President revealed plans for kickstarting inclusive Sudan talks among all sides within three weeks.
IGAD Executive Secretary and Ethiopia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), urged the two warring sides to “give dialogue a chance” in his opening remarks during the summit.
“We urge the warring parties in Sudan not to allow war bring out the worst version of the best of us,” he said. “For a credible succession of hostilities, the violence and bloodshed must first stop.”
Workneh also expressed concern about refugees sheltering in Sudan, saying it had become one of the largest refugee-hosting nations in the world before the war broke out. The conflict brought “the twin prospects of double displacement of refugees and asylum seekers as well as increased challenges of food security.”
On June 15, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) released a situation report on the impacts of the internal conflict in Sudan on Ethiopia, disclosing that over 11,000 refugees and asylum seekers had fled to Ethiopia through the border town of Metema during the two months of conflict.