January 6, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan has deployed thousands of government militia Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fighters to the eastern state of Kassala on the border with Eritrea.
Eyewitnesses in Kassala underscored the RSF militiamen on tanks and hundreds of vehicles with pintle-mounted weapons had arrived in the city on Thursday morning.
Sources told Sudan Tribune the RSF fighters were deployed in anticipation of internal Eritrean developments that could lead to a large wave of refugees hitting Sudan’s border.
While others claimed the purpose of the border closure is to prevent Darfur rebel elements and Ethiopia’s armed opposition fighters from infiltrating into Sudan’s territory due to these developments.
According to the sources, the government of Kassala State has demanded the help of the federal government in Khartoum to deploy military reinforcements to control the security situation and avoid any potential chaos.
Kassala State officials approached by Sudan Tribune refused to disclose the reasons for the deployment of the RSF militiamen on the border with Eritrea.
However, well-informed sources described the deployment of the militiamen in Kassala as routine measure dictated by the state of emergency declared last week.
Last week, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir issued a decree imposing a six-month state of emergency in North Kordofan and Kassala states.
The government said the decision was prompted by security reasons pertaining to the collection of illicit arms as well as combating drugs and human trafficking.
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television recently reported that Egypt has sent reinforcements to a military base in the Berbera port of Eritrea.
Ethiopia had previously accused some Egyptians and the government in Eritrea of providing support to Ethiopian opposition groups to disrupt construction of the multi-billion dollar power project and to destabilise the nation.
RSF NOT DEPLOYED ON ERITREAN BORDER
Meanwhile, in order to stop the growing rumours on Friday afternoon, the governor of Kassala State Adam Jama’a denied the RSF fighters haven’t been deployed on the Eritrean border, saying they were dispatched to Kassala to support the state of emergency order.
Jama’a accompanied by the state’s security committee on Thursday inspected the Awad and Al-Lafa crossings on the borders with Eritrea.
He said the Sudanese government seeks to maintain excellent ties with its eastern neighbour, Eritrea, pointing those ties are being reflected in the daily interaction between the two peoples.
According to official news agency SUNA, Jama’a and his delegation met with the security officials from the Eritrean side of the border.
He denied that the federal or state government has issued a decision to close the border crossing with Eritrea, saying relation with Asmara is eternal and goes deep into history.
The governor further pointed to continued cooperation with the Eritrean security organs to fighting negative phenomena, saying the movement of the residents from both sides of the border would continue as normal according to the existing measures.
He added they would establish a number of bodies to control the border work and economic dealings, saying preparation have been completed to establish a land port between the two countries.
Last December, Sudan’s First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Salih paid a two-day visit to Asmara in which he discussed bilateral relations and issues of common concern.