Monday, 4 July 2011
Bashir says Halayeb dispute to be resolved through dialogue
Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir affirmed his government's willingness to resolve the border dispute with Egypt through dialogue on 30th June.
Speaking on his way home from China, al-Bashir said that former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak had taken over the disputed Halayeb region while Sudan was embroiled in civil war.
Al-Bashir said Khartoum was waiting to discuss the issue with a new government in Cairo.
On 20th June, al-Bashir was quoted on Sudanese radio as saying that relations between Sudan and Egypt would improve as a result of the revolution in Egypt that overthrew Mubarak.
In May, Egyptian diplomat Nabil ElAraby, who became foreign minister in March 2011, before stepping down in June to become Secretary-General of the Arab League, said Halayeb would be a "joint investment area" between Egypt and Sudan.
Also in May, Sudan's ambassador to Egypt, Abdel Rahman Ser al-Khetm said Egypt and Sudan would announce a solution to their dispute in June.
While this announcement has obviously not happened, Bashir's comments are positive.
The Halayeb triangle, a 21,000 square km stretch of land overlooking the Red Sea, has been disputed since the late nineteenth century.
In 1899, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement, which saw Britian and Egypt jointly manage Sudan, set the boundary between Egypt and Sudan at the 22nd parallel, placing the Halayeb triangle inside Egyptian borders.
In 1902, however, the British drew a separate “administrative boundary” that placed the triangle under Sudanese administration because its inhabitants were closer to Khartoum than Cairo.
The area remained under joint Egyptian-Sudanese control until 1992, when Sudan allowed a Canadian oil company to explore the waters offshore the Halayeb coast, provoking Cairo's ire.
The area has been under Cairo's control since the mid-1990s, and Sudan withdrew in 2000, whilst still maintaining its claim to the region.
Sudan has submitted a memorandum to the UN over Halayeb, but has resisted registering voters in the region for elections, despite claims that it was a constituency.
Last June, al-Bashir made a surprise assertion over Halayeb, saying “Halayeb is Sudanese and will stay Sudanese”. Egypt dismissed his comments, saying its southern borders “are well known at latitude 22°".
It appears that the two countries are planning some form of economic integration for Halayeb, although what this will entail is not yet clear.
Sources: AllAfrica, AlMasry Al Youm, Sudan Tribune
For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.