CAIRO: Monday’s killing of 15 Sudanese near the border between Egypt and Israel has set off a war of words between the United Nations and Egypt, while Khartoum is slamming Cairo for targeting Sudanese persons living within its territory.
“There are violations in applying the law and Egyptian bodies’ abuse against Sudanese civilians,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Monday, adding that 23 out of 39 persons arrested outside an exchange office were released Sunday, the Sudan tribune reported.
“Egypt’s right to maintain the law and protect its political and economic security does not mean that its security and police bodies should repress, detain and torture ordinary Sudanese citizens who officially travelled to Egypt for tourism and medical treatment,” he continued.
A number of Sudanese parliamentarians in the Foreign Affairs Committee have called on Khartoum to boycott relations with Egypt over the alleged abuses.
They also called for cancellation of an agreement of four freedoms that was signed in 2004; per this agreement, the nationals of both countries have freedom of movement, transportation, work, and ownership. The parliamentarians also called for staging a protest outside the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum.
Over the past few days, the relations of both countries strained over an assault on a Sudanese civilian inside a police station; Yahia Zakaria was assaulted on Nov. 22 in Cairo’s based Abdeen police station where he had been detained over charges of illegal currency exchange; he was arrested in an exchange office where he was changing currency required for his son medical treatment.
However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated Friday that there is no discrimination against Sudanese expatriates in Egypt, saying “All Egyptians and Sudanese are equal before the law.”
The Egyptian Military spokesperson announced Monday that five Sudanese people were fatally shot and 5 others were injured when they tried to enter Israel along Egyptian-Israel borders; earlier November, 15 Sudanese immigrants were killed by the security forces when they tried to illegally enter into Israel, AP reported.
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the Egyptian authorities, calling for clarifications on the assault and killing of Sudanese people on the border, Sudan tribune reported.
Filing a complaint against Egypt at the UN Security Council
“The Egyptian state is committing a grave historical mistake by Egypt-izing Halaib and Shalateen (a plot of land claimed by both countries for more than 50 years), Ghandour told the Tribune, calling on Egypt to withdraw from the triangle.
He added that the Sudanese Government noted that Egypt’s 2015 parliamentary elections were conducted in Halaib and Shalateen, and filed a report to the United Nations Security Council the electoral process.
A total of 11,269 Egyptian voters are eligible to ballot in 2015 parliament elections in Halaib and Shalateen constituency, affiliates with the Red Sea governorate. Four independents are competing to win one seat in the new Egyptian House of Representatives.
The border dispute is due to conflicting maps drawn by occupying British forces; one in 1899 says that the triangle belongs to Egyptian territories and the second in 1902, showing the triangle as a Sudanese possession, Minya University Nubian history professor Fathy Khourshid previously told The Cairo Post.
The Halaib Triangle is a 20 km sq enclave on the Red Sea coast occupied by tribes from both Egypt and Sudan who have traditionally lived there before the demarcation of the borders. Since Sudanese independence in 1956, Egypt and Sudan have been locked in a border dispute over the area.
Renaissance Dam diplomacy
Sudan requested Egypt and Ethiopia to postpone a planned meeting due to be held on Nov. 21 to Nov. 29 and 30 as the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation was travelling to Brazil although Sudanese media reporters claimed the meeting was adjourned over the strained relations.
The Nov. 29 meeting, however, was indefinitely postponed upon a request from the Egyptian side; the head of Egyptian experts tasked to discuss the Ethiopian dam impacts on the downstream countries Alaa Yassin told The Cairo Post Tuesday, adding that Egypt asked to postpone the meeting until holding another prior meeting with the Foreign and Irrigation Ministers of both countries.
The meeting on the foreign and irrigation ministerial level will tackle guarantees for Egypt to not be affected by the under-construction dam, he added.
In the tripartite meeting, held Nov. 8 and 9 in Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moghazi said the construction of the dam goes faster than the talks on its impacts, expressing Egypt’s deep concerns.
The construction of the dam has been a high-priority issue for Egypt’s government, which has raised concerns it would negatively affect its water supply. Ethiopia has claimed the dam is necessary for its development; both states agreed to tripartite talks that started in August 2014 and have been hosted by Sudan.
Brief on old sourced ties
Relations of Cairo and Khartoun has previously sourced following the ouster of the former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 as Egypt has accused Sudan of hosting Egyptian Muslims Brotherhood members and supporters, fleeing their home as President Omar al-Bashir belongs to the Brotherhood branch in Sudan.
The relations were soured after a total of 101 Egyptian fishermen were detained in April 2014, two weeks after entering into Sudanese territorial waters. Following talks, Bashir pardoned the imprisoned 101 Egyptian fishermen in August 2015. Reciprocally, Egypt has pardoned 44 Sudanese people accused for trying to illegally enter Egyptian territories.
Additional reporting by Rany Mostafa and Asmaa Nassar.