As protest against Sudan’s Omar al Bashir continues in parts of the country, the embattled president is on the look out for allies and supporters from the region.His first step was to announce the opening of borders with Eritrea, which had been closed in January 2018, over what he termed as efforts to combat trafficking of weapons and foodstuff.
It had also deployed 50,000 members of the Rapid Support Forces and declared the state of emergency in Kassala, a town neer the border with Eritrea, after reports of activities by rebels backed by Asmara.
“I announce here, from Kassala, that we are opening the border with Eritrea because they are our brothers and our people. Politics will not divide us,” Al Bashir said.
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At least 30 people have been killed protests which started in December 2018 over rising prices and turned into sustained marches calling for the resignation of the leader who has been in power since 1989.
Despite facing these protests, Al Bashir has maintained a defiant stance, claiming that only elections can determine the next leader.
“Changing the government and changing the president will not be through WhatsApp nor Facebook, but will be through the ballot box. This is our pledge and commitment before the Sudanese people… The decision is your right, the masses of the Sudanese people,” said the leader, whose party wants him to run for another term in 2020.
Relations between the two countries have been in crisis over allegations of supporting the other’s opposition. According to reports, Eritrea had in 2017 accused Sudan, Ethiopia and Qatar of supporting the opposition that wanted to overthrow the government before Sudan’s accusation that Eritrea is backing opposition groups.
Regional group, IGAD, had announced in September 2018 bid to help the two countries reconcile, following in the steps between Ethiopia and Eritrea and Ethiopia and Somalia reconciliation.