Ethiopia’s Abiy visits Sudan in push to end conflict

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Sudan’s military leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in the temporary administrative capital, Port Sudan, on Tuesday, becoming the first foreign leader to visit him since the start of the war between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Observers see the move as the latest bid by the international community to persuade the Sudanese army to return to negotiations to end the country’s devastating conflict.

Abiy, who hosted RSF leader Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo in Addis Ababa in December 2023, framed the official visit as part of a push to bring peace to Sudan.

Peace negotiations hosted by Saudi Arabia and the United States in Jeddah aimed at brokering a ceasefire stalled last year. Several attempts to bring the military back to the negotiating table have, so far, failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Images shared by both sides showed Burhan and Abiy walking hand in hand after the Ethiopian premier’s arrival in Port Sudan. On X (formerly Twitter), Abiy’s office called the visit part of efforts to find “sustainable solutions for Sudan’s stability”.

Today’s visit comes after an RSF attack on the south-eastern state of Sennar last month brought the conflict closer to Sudan’s border with Ethiopia. There have been signs the RSF is moving into Gedaref state, which also hosts Ethiopian refugees.

Abiy’s visit to Port Sudan also comes despite past tensions with the Sudanese army.

The war in Sudan broke out in April 2023 when months of tension between Gen. Al Burhan and former ally and RSF commander Gen Mohamed Dagalo over the mandate and role of their respective forces in a democratic Sudan boiled over into violence.

The conflict has displaced nearly 10 million Sudanese and killed tens of thousands. It has also created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions facing hunger, particularly in the western regions of Darfur and Kordofan.