The Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn dismissed on Friday circulating rumours that his government secretly gave away part of the Horn of Africa’s territories to stakeholders in neighbouring Sudan.
Desalegn’s remarks came while responding to queries raised by members of the House of People’s Representatives during a session on the country’s Second Growth and Transformation Plan and other current issues.
His reaction comes days after seven exiled Ethiopian political parties and civic organizations wrote a petition letter to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon over the Ethiopia-Sudan border demarcation matter.
Last week’s petition was in protest to what activists alleged was against a secret border deal made between Ethiopia and the Sudanese government.
Desalegn said the rumour alleging Ethiopia had given land to Sudan were “baseless”.
“There is no negotiation on the issue with the government of Sudan”, said the Ethiopian prime minister adding, “The two countries [Ethiopia and Sudan] are working together to keep peace and stability in border areas”.
According to the activists, exact details of the border deal between the two neighbors are still shrouded in secrecy, but said media outlets of both countries recently reported that leaders of the two nations made public their intention to demarcate the common boundary on the basis of that deal.
With regard to the alleged reports of border deal, the Ethiopian prime minister stressed that his government would not make any decisions without making consultations and without the knowledge of the people.
“The Ethiopian people view the government’s decision to demarcate the boundary on Sudan’s terms as nothing less than a sellout”, reads the petition.
It warned that if the demarcation goes as per the agreement of the two countries, thousands of people all along the frontier will be uprooted from their homes, farms and investments, a result they will not take lying down.
“Ethiopians demand that the proposed demarcation of the boundary line be effectuated in compliance with the provisions of the 1902 Treaty,” states the petition.
“Anything short of that which is concocted as a political expedient for the ruling clique to prolong its power by ceding Ethiopian territory will never be honored by the Ethiopian people and is bound to provoke serious backlash”, it added.
According to the 1902 Treaty, the line delimited therein must be demarcated by officers of the two countries if and when the decisions and recommendations of the Joint Commission were accepted by the two governments.