Sudan chooses the UN over the AU for help in dispute with Ethiopia

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Wednesday, 29 June 2022 13:19

In this photo provided by the Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council, Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, center, speaks during a ceremony to reinstate Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was deposed in a coup last month, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday Nov. 21, 2021. (Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council via AP)/

Following the alleged execution of seven Sudanese soldiers and one civilian by Ethiopian forces last week, Sudan went straight to the UN Security Council (UNSC) with its complaint, bypassing the continental organ the African Union (AU).

The move escalates the international standing of the dispute, which has become more violent since the incident. Both sides seem to be firing over the border, particularly around the contested area of Al-Fashaga and the fighting is escalating rapidly.

In a statement, the Sudanese army said: “The killings violated all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law. Ethiopia displayed the bodies out in the open but did not provide further details including how a civilian farmer was involved.”

Ethiopia has denied that it sanctioned an execution-style killing of the victims, with its foreign ministry saying in a 27 June press release that: “The Ethiopian government has learnt about the tragic incident that occurred at the common border with Sudan … [and] regrets the loss of life as a result of a skirmish between the Sudanese army and a local militia of which an investigation will be carried out soon.”

Sudan reacts

On Monday 27 June, Sudan’s ruler and head of the military, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visited his troops in Al Fashaga, saying: “We don’t have a lot to say, we will practically show them our power and strong reply. We can die until we are all dead, and we will support our military by all means.”

From the strong military terminology of that statement, it seems the dispute is beneficial to the Sudanese junta as it proves the country needs a strong military, rather than a weaker civilian government. Sudan has struggled to find a political system that works since independence in 1956.

The military and civilian rulers have been at odds since the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir in a 2019 military coup. In a following coup late last year, current leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan overthrew Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, head of the transitional government set up to lead Sudan to democracy after al-Bashir’s 20-year rule. General Burham is the head of the Sovereign Council, made up of both military and civilian leaders.

From the morning of 27 June until the afternoon of the next day, Sudanese forces fired long-distance artillery across the border, but Assefa Ashege, a senior security official in Ethiopia’s Amhara region confirmed no injuries. Nonetheless, Sudan’s army succeeded in capturing Jabbal Kala al-Laban, an area near the contested border.

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