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Tribesmen's chiefs of Halayeb in south Egypt said they reject the statements of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir where he said that Halayeb “is and will remain Sudanese land".
In statments to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the chiefs of el-Ababda, el-Basharya and el-Beja tribes said their borders have long been demarcated by the 22nd circle of latitude and affirmed that they are Egyptian and not Sudanese citizens.
The residents of Halayeb said they were astonsihed at al-Bashir’s statements and added that the fact that Egypt established administrative control over Halayeb only in 1993 may be the reason why Sudanese officials make such statements from time to time.
Salah Karar, chief of el-Basharya tribe, secretary of the National Demcoratic Party in nearby Shalateen and member of the local council, said those statements are intended to deflect attention away from internal political problems in Sudan.
Members of his tribe, he added, are Egyptian citizens who enjoy their full constitutional rights. They have national identity cards, vote in the elections and some of them are members of the military.
Mohamed Taher Seddo, chief of the tribes of el-Basharya and el-Beja and head of one of the committees of the local council, said Halayeb is Egyptian as history demonstrates.
In a related development, experts in Sudanese affairs, said al-Bashir’s statements came in response to the declarations made by Egyptian officials who said that Egypt will approve the outcome of the referendum on Sudan’s north-south separation regardless of its result.
They added that Egyptian-Sudanese relations are tense because there is a feeling among Sudanese officials that Egypt is seeking to improve relations with the south in order to have greater influence in southern Sudan if the country splits following the up-coming referendum.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.