Sudan’s government has accused Ethiopian troops of entering its territory, further escalating a dispute over land that straddles their border.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said, “Sudan strongly condemns the aggression carried out by Ethiopia, in which its forces entered into territories that legally belong to Sudan.”
It described the incident as “a direct violation” of Sudanese sovereignty.
Ethiopia is yet to respond to the accusations by its western neighbor, and Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the Ethiopian government’s Emergency Task Force didn’t respond to questions about the statement.
Relations between the two Eastern African countries have worsened since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive in the country’s northern Tigray province on November 4. Officials in Ethiopia’s ethnic Amhara region have pressed the government to seize land that Sudan claims ownership of based on colonial treaties.
Several deadly clashes have taken place in al-Fashqa, a fertile farming area on the Ethiopia-Sudan border. Ethiopia has also sent in artillery in the region risking a full blown war.
Dina Mufti, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, on Feb. 13 accused Sudan of “plundering and displacing” its citizens since Nov. 6, as Ethiopian troops were busy fighting forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
The land in question lies on the Sudanese side of the border, according to colonial treaties, but Ethiopian farmers have cultivated the land for over five decades with silent approval from authorities in Khartoum.
Ethiopia’s war in November opened up a gap for Sudan to seize back some territory, though Ethiopian forces have pushed back recently.
The land dispute adds to heightened tensions between both countries over the construction of Africa’s largest hydropower dam on the main tributary of the River Nile.
Sudan and Egypt hugely depend on the waters of the Nile that flows from Ethiopia’s Lake Tana for their water needs.
However, both Arab nations have dams on the Nile while Ethiopia, starved of adequate electricity for its 120 million plus population is seeking to join that electricity sufficient club.