The Sudanese army announced that it had repelled an attempt to incur an incursion by the Ethiopian forces into the border area between the two countries.
A military statement said, on Sunday, that the Ethiopian forces were forced to withdraw from the Umm Barakat area, without going into further details.
Sudan’s army chief, Major General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, told reporters that the incident occurred on Saturday. He said it showed how the army had been protecting the country in the wake of an attempted coup in Khartoum last week.
Colonel Geetnet Adan, an Ethiopian military spokesman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tensions have risen along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia since the outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region last year that sent tens of thousands of refugees into eastern Sudan.
Tensions centered on an area of fertile farmland known as Fashaqa, where the border is disputed.
Closing ports and cutting roads
Meanwhile, protesters in eastern Sudan blocked a pipeline carrying imported crude oil to the capital, Khartoum.
Protesters from the Beja tribes in eastern Sudan closed ports and blocked roads in protest against what they described as the bad political and economic conditions in the region.
In a report from Khartoum, Heba Marjan of Al Jazeera said that the resentment of the Beja tribe – one of the main tribes in eastern Sudan – dates back to October 2020, when the opposition and armed groups signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government.
The Beja tribe said the deal is “not representative and does not address the root causes of marginalization” and “underdevelopment in the eastern region,” according to Morgan.
“They say they want to make sure the government understands what it means to have an economic crisis, to be underdeveloped and to have their voices heard,” she added.
According to Morgan, the goal of the protesters is to hold a conference with the various tribes and ethnicities in the Eastern Province to come up with an alternative to the peace agreement.
The ministry called on the protesters to end the closure within a week to spare the country huge financial and technical losses.
“The authorities are trying to solve the problem of closing the ports,” Sudanese Oil and Energy Minister Gadian Ali Obaid said in an interview.
On Saturday, he said there are enough reserves for the country’s needs for up to 10 days.
The ministry said that the Khartoum Oil Refinery, which produces fuel for domestic consumption, is still operating normally.
The ministry said another pipeline used to export crude oil from neighboring South Sudan was still operating but was vulnerable to freezing and damage because protesters prevented a ship from loading oil.
The ministry said that the oil depots in the Bashayer oil port in eastern Sudan will be fully filled after ten days at most if the suspension of exports continues. This, in turn, will cause the oil fields in South Sudan to cease production.
Walid Madibo, founder and chair of the Sudan Politics Forum, said the protesters’ grievances were “justified”.
“It is not only the concerns of the Beja tribe…I think it is the demands of the people in the eastern part of the country,” Madibo told Al Jazeera.
“Anger has been building for decades and has reached a point where they can no longer stand it,” he said. He added that anger escalated, “especially” after signing the Juba agreement with groups in Darfur that excluded others in the eastern and northern parts of the country.
“As a result, we see the anger build up and get to a point where they are now, I think, ruining the whole country,” Madibo said.
An advisor to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok accused, on Friday, unknown forces of using those protests to harm the economy and put pressure on the transitional government that is ruling after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Assistant Yasser Arman said in a statement that stopping oil exports “will lead to significant economic losses.” He estimated the potential damages of the prolonged pause at more than $1 billion.