2 February 2019
The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has urged its neighboring country, Sudan, to control the illegal arms being smuggled through the border the two countries share which otherwise might bring an unwanted diplomatic setback between the two nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) told the legislative.
Presenting its six-month report to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) on Tuesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD) indicated that over the past few months, the government has observed a decline in the level of fire arms being smuggled in through all border points,while still the highest number of illegal arms is coming from Sudan.
The Minister–noting that the decline in the illegal fire arms trade across borders as a result of government’s tight control– told the House that the Ethiopian government “has clearly informed the Sudanese President, Omar al-Beshir, and his respective ministers that the Sudanese government should take the concern of Ethiopia very seriously; and take into account how this uncontrolled arms trafficking would affect the stability and security of Ethiopia.”
“We have held frequent discussions with the Sudanese officials through diplomatic channels as well as special meetings at higher government levels,”Workneh told the House, adding that both governments have already identified who are behind the arms trafficking as well as how they have been smuggling.
Furthermore, the Minister said that, “We have informed the [Sudanese officials] that they should tighten their border control in their part to deter smuggling. We have clearly informed them that, otherwise, this will eventually lead to the cutting or impacting of diplomatic ties or relations.”
Additionally, the Minister told the House that Ethiopia has identified the manufacturer of the guns mostly smuggled to Ethiopia.
“We have discussed with the manufacturer of the gun. We still keep following up on this issue seriously,” he went on citing international laws and treaties over illegal gun trafficking and the right way of selling armaments. “It has to be carried out in a legitimate way,in a sovereign nation along with the proper identifications, make and model of the gun and other information,” he said. However, he did not disclose the name and the country of origin for the manufacturer of the arms being smuggled into Ethiopia.
Besides reporting on the efforts made in addressing the arms trafficking issue; the renewed Ethio-Eritrean relation and the subsequent progress registered in the past six months was also another issue included in Workneh’s report.
Citing the praise the Ethiopian government has received from the international community following the rapprochement of the two countries; he reiterated the relationship is growing at a very fast pace. To support his argument, the Minister cited the opening of the border as an example of the progress made in the past six months.
However, MPs raised questions over the growing concern and potential challenges of border openings and the resulting border trade without putting in place a common legal framework.
Responding to the questions, the Minister disclosed that draft laws have already been finalized and are expected to be summited to the Council of Minister and will arrive at HPR upon the endorsement of the Council.
Workneh highlighted the overall diplomatic activities his office has carried out in the past six months, declaring it has registered “considerable gains”. He added that, in addition to Sudan and Eritrea, “The overall actives we have undertaken so far are successful diplomatic achievements that has ensured sustainable relationships with neighboring countries in particular and other countries and development partners in general.”
He further told the House that Ethiopia has sent a draft document to Asmara specifying port usage rates and logistics service provisions by Eritrean.
In addition to that, he added that a continuous dialogue has been held with relevant bodies to resolve the problems along the Ethio-Djibouti corridor while discussions were held with Somalia to use ports in Somalia as well.
Worknehalso highlighted efforts to persuade Nile basin countries to ratify and sign the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CPA).
After hearing the report, the Peace and Foreign Affairs Standing Committee of the House in its part lauded the encouraging achievements of the Ministry in terms of restoring peace with Eritrea and the Horn on top of enhancing development cooperation, and diplomatic relations with several countries.
According to the Standing Committee, other works that have been carried out by the ministry were also encouraging particularly relating to the Ethiopian Diaspora and the diplomatic relations with various countries to scale up financial support.
However, budget performance, audit findings and cooperative negotiations with Nile basin countries were among the issues recommended by the standing committee to be addressed.