Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his country does not want to go to war with Sudan at a time of internal conflict in its northern Tigray region, which has also brought Ethiopia and Sudan to the brink of fighting over a contested border region.
Prime Minister Ahmed told parliament on Tuesday that his country “has many problems, and we are not ready to go to battle.”
“We don’t need war. It is better to settle it in a peaceful manner,” he added, referring to the border dispute with Sudan.
The dispute between the two countries has been revolving around agricultural land in al-Fashqa region, which falls within Sudan’s international boundaries but has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers. Ethiopia’s northern Amhara and Tigray regions meet Sudan’s eastern Gedaref State in the disputed territory. Both Khartoum and Addis Ababa claim sovereignty over the land.
Ethiopia’s sudden descent into a regional conflict with forces loyal to the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Tigray has now brought the two counties to the brink of territorial fighting as military forces from both sides have been deployed to the region.
Ethiopia accuses Sudan of taking advantage of its forces being distracted by the internal conflict in Tigray to occupy Ethiopian land and loot property. It has already warned that Sudan’s “military build-up” in the contested border region could ignite a war.
In December last year, Khartoum dispatched reinforcements to the disputed land after it claimed that Ethiopian forces and militias ambushed Sudanese troops, killing at least four soldiers.
Back then, Khartoum said that it had taken control of all Sudanese territory in the area.
The conflict in Tigray has resulted in thousands of fatalities so far. Hundreds of thousands have also been driven from their homes due to the fighting. Tigray is currently dealing with an acute shortage of water, food, and medicine.
Ethiopia is separately engaged in a conflict with Egypt and Sudan in a three-way dispute over a mega-dam it is building on the Blue Nile, known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).