HomeSudanTensions rise between Sudan and Ethiopia, in an escalation of mutual accusations

Tensions rise between Sudan and Ethiopia, in an escalation of mutual accusations

Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia worsen. Seized in Khartoum a shipment of weapons coming from Addis Ababa, while the day before the Ethiopian Federal Army claimed to have killed more than 50 mercenaries coming from Sudan with the aim of hitting the GERD dam.

Sudan’s authorities claimed to have seized on September 5 at Khartoum’s airport a cargo consisting of 72 casings containing weapons, just disembarked from an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

According to the Sudanese police forces, the weapons were destined for groups accused of “crimes against the State”, while the managers of Ethiopian Airline have issued a statement stating that the seized weapons were part of a batch of hunting rifles regularly declared on the shipping documents. According to Ethiopian Airline, the weapons were stored for a long time in the airport warehouses in Addis Ababa, for verification, and then sent to the recipient on September 5. The company also added that the recipient, whose details were not provided, would have asked for the release of the seized weapons together with the payment of a compensation of 250,000 dollars.

The case is being investigated by the special commission that deals with the investigation of the responsibilities of the former regime led by Omar al-Bashir, who suspects an involvement in the matter of some factions still close to the former dictator. The weapons would have been shipped from Russia to Ethiopia in May 2019, and from there sent to Sudan last September 5, registered as hunting rifles. Along with these would be present in the containers also some visors for the night use of the weapons. According to Sudanese investigators, who did not provide clarification on the type of weapons seized, the same could have been intended for opposition groups with the intent to incite hostile actions against the transitional government authorities.

The Ethiopian government has provided no official communication, while there has been speculation in the regional media about a possible role of the government in Addis Ababa in fomenting unrest in the country.

These speculations, clearly referring to the ongoing tensions both in the al Fashaga area and in those near the GERD dam, were also fuelled by the news spread on September 4 by the commander of the Ethiopian federal forces in the Metekel area, Colonel Seife Ingi, according to which about 50 mercenaries serving the Tigrinya TPLF forces were killed in a firefight while trying to enter Ethiopian territory from neighbouring Sudan. These mercenaries, according to the military in Addis Ababa, allegedly aimed at attacking the GERD dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.

The spokesman of the Sudanese army, Brigadier General Al-Tahir Abu Haja, has strongly denied any Sudanese involvement in the matter, defining as unfounded the accusations made by Ethiopia in the direction of an involvement of Sudan in the affair.

Adele Sariach
Adele Sariach
Analyst per l’Africa dell’Institute for Global Studies, presso la sede di Bruxelles (Belgio). Ha studiato Relazioni Internazionali in Sud Africa e ha vissuto in Camerun, Tanzania e Nigeria. L’ambito professionale di interesse di Adele Sariach è quello dell’analisi dei sistemi politici dell’Africa Occidentale e Centrale, con particolare riferimento all’evoluzione degli autoritarismi e delle dinamiche etnico-tribali.


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