Ethiopia: A Bulwark of Serenity for Sudan’s Crisis

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By Solomon Dibaba/ENA/

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed lost no time to mediate on the Sudanese crisis in cooperation with the AU, helping to resolve African problem in the African way.


In Lieu of Backdrop

Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has navigated through various zigzags and loopholes that actually shaped from afar, the current situation in the country. Subsequent military coup de tats, the existence of political forces ranging from fundamentalists to nationalists and to lesser degree communists had shaped the political jigsaw puzzle in the country.

The independence of South Sudan in 2011 resulted in a loss of 46 percent of the national income from oil revenue resulting in a major shock to the Sudanese economy.

The military has always interfered into the Sudanese politics pausing as a stabilizing factor in the country.

Scope of the Uprisings and the Aftermath

As the result of the cumulative effects of the above mentioned factors in December, uprisings flared up in Sudan. The rallies started as demonstrations against the rising cost of food and shortages of fuel, but as this was only the tip of the iceberg they developed into protests against the President, Omar al-Bashir.

After six months of protests that toppled Omar al-Bashir, the country’s dictator for 30 years, and sparked hopes of a democratic renaissance, Sudan’s dream of change appeared to go with the wind as indiscriminate killings drew the attention of the major countries of the world who failed to take an immediate action while the UN and the African Union have called for an investigation.

Besides, a myriad of Western countries and foreign based political groupings have time and again tried to exert their influence on the country’s political c

With a weak and divided opposition that lacks a comprehensive plan for a political transition, the only option for young activists and youth movements is to continue demonstrating.

After months of protests, Bashir removed from power in a military coup announced by Sudanese Defense Minister, Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Aufand was arrested in April.

While total crisis was inevitably unfolding in Sudan, Ethiopia did not choose to ignore the situation as an indifferent spectator. In immediate mediation by Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who spoke separately to the two sides in Khartoum, an important first step towards constructive dialogue was set in to avert further loss of life and chaos.

At the initial stage, a number of countries and the UN Security Council restricted themselves to condemnation of the situation and making calls for peace and stability but Prime Minister Abiy rapidly paid a visit to Sudan in an attempt to stop further escalation of the conflict and restoration of a civilian rule in Sudan.

Ethiopia had no intention of fishing into the troubled waters of other countries for some ulterior motive. The country based itself on African Union (AU) regulation of non-recognition of coup d’états and promotion of peace among AU member countries.

Only later in the midst of the crisis, US Special envoy Donald Booth and

Ambassador Tibor Nagy, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, met with the members of the TMC and the opposition to seek a political solution to the crisis.

In attempting to resolve the crisis, Ethiopia took a firm and meaningful stand by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointing a higher official, Ambassador Mohammed Dirir as a chief negotiator in the entire process.

Why Ethiopia Embarked on Swift Action?

The principle of peace and peaceful mutual socio-economic and political cooperation on mutual trust is one of the pillars of Ethiopia’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations with the neighboring countries. Ethiopia paid a special attention to the crisis in Sudan also because both countries share a boundary that extends to more than 1000 kilometers on the top of their strategic partner. Moreover, Ethiopia shares AU principle of solving African problems by the Africans themselves.

Ethiopia’s relations with Sudan are based on long lasting historic, social and economic relations. First, the reciprocity of mutual interest in peace and security of both countries demanded swift response from Ethiopia mainly because the prevalence of serenity and security in Sudan adds a greater value to peace, stability and security of Ethiopia.

Moreover, the age old bondage of inter-culturality between the two countries and their experience in mutual benefits from public diplomacy rightly justifies Ethiopia’s urgent response.

Likewise, Ethiopia and Sudan have developed common economic relations in mutual investments, hydropower sharing and cooperation in ascertaining security in the border areas between the two countries.

Both countries have shared interest in developing their infrastructural facilities to promote bilateral trade through railway, road and port development.

Ethiopia has long realized the tactical maneuvering of terrorists in larger Horn of Africa including Al-shabab and ISIS. The crisis in Sudan could have been a breeding ground of terrorists as in the case of Libya. Therefore, Ethiopia was determined to curb any expansion of terrorist organizations in Sudan which can use the country as a spring board from which they can make disruptive activities in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Sudan are located in a strategically volatile area in which a number of countries are already competing for the control of the Horn of Africa and creating a sphere of multiple influences in the countries of the Horn. This could sooner or later affect the domestic political and economic developments in the area. Pushing for peace process in Sudan will help to create conducive environment for the social and economic development of the two countries.