The Chairman of Sudan's Sovereignty Council has revealed that Ethiopian forces and militias have seized a large part of his country's territory along the border.
"There are old problems. Herders have lost their livestock and farmers have lost their lands. The armed forces had nothing to do but to protect them because the Ethiopians imposed their presence," explained Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan in an interview broadcast on Saturday on official Sudanese TV.
Al-Burhan's announcement was the first admission by a Sudanese official of the Ethiopian occupation of agricultural land in Gedaref Governorate in the east of Sudan. He confirmed that a Sudanese soldier was killed and two others were injured during a recent cross-border attack by Ethiopian militias.
Earlier this month, Al-Burhan accompanied the Army Chief of Staff, the Director of the Intelligence Service and other senior army officers as they inspected the 2nd Infantry Division stationed along the border with Ethiopia. At the time, the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council said that the army is fully prepared to protect Sudanese citizens and lands and stressed that the armed forces will never fail in their duty.
Two days later, Ethiopia's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Adam Mohamed, arrived in Khartoum, accompanied by a number of senior military officers. He held talks with Al-Burhan and also met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The two officials agreed to control the border and curb transnational crimes, reaching a "full and lasting understanding to secure joint borders."
On 30 March, the Sudanese army was redeployed, after an absence of nearly 25 years, in Al-Fashaqa Al-Sughra on the border with Ethiopia. The area is disputed by the two countries and is witnessing occasional tension due to criminal activities.