Can Sudan avoid a clash with Egypt? The two countries have been at loggerheads for years over their border, but the issue appears to have taken on a new life.
On Monday Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, on said his country wouldn’t give up its claim to the disputed Halayeb triangle.
“We won’t abandon our sovereignty,” the minister said.
Last month Sudan called on Egypt to open negotiations to resolve the Halayeb issue, or to allow to go to international arbitration, as Egypt did over its dispute with Israel over the Taba area.
However, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zaid, rejected the suggestion, “Halayeb and Shalateen are Egyptian territory and they fall under Egyptian sovereignty and Egypt has no additional comment on the statement issued by the Sudanese foreign ministry”.
Complex border disputes
The Sudanese-Egyptian border dispute at Halayeb (or Hala’ib as it is also written) is one of many.
Three lie along the Sudanese-Egyptian border: Halayeb, Bir Tawil and Gebel Elba.
The issues go back to the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, which established the border along latitude 22°.
The reason for deviating from this varies with each contexted area, but the largest is Halayeb.
Repeated attempts to resolve the issue have failed. Sudan appealed to the African Union, but without success. Then, after a failed attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995, Egypt expelled Sudanese police from the triangle.
Three other disputes are with South Sudan: Abyei, Heglig and Kafia Kingi.
The Southern Sudanese also have one of the most famous contested border regions in Africa: the Ilemi triangle.
The Ilemi triangle is claimed by no fewer than three nations: South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. Uganda has sometimes also asserted its rights in the area. Since the Ilemi triangle is rumoured to have oil reserves it could become a serious issue in future.
But for the moment the Halayeb question is on the agenda, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved.