KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan will close its border crossings with Libya next month as it ramps up security on the frontier in response to banditry, the interior ministry said on Monday.
Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid issued the order with the “aim of reorganising” police along the border, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
Passage on a highway to the boundary “has become subjected to threats and attacks from rebels and outlaws who commit robberies and extortion,” the statement said.
“The decision will be enforced starting on the first of July 2010 and until other directives are issued,” it said.
Libya’s border with Sudan passes through the troubled Darfur region, where the United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in a war that started in 2003 when ethnic rebels revolted against the Arab-dominated government.
The decision to close the border comes amid worsening tensions between Sudan and Libya, which is harbouring a rebel leader wanted by Khartoum.
The leader, Khalil Ibrahim, heads Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which suspended in May Qatari-brokered peace talks with Khartoum.
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir and Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi had a telephone conversation last Thursday in which the question of Ibrahim’s presence in Tripoli was raised, Sudanese media reported.
The head of Sudanese intelligence, Mohammed al-Atta, was reported to have said at the weekend that Ibrahim’s extradition was “imminent,” on a website close to the secret services. But this was denied by the rebel group.
“Ibrahim is in Libya and will remain there until he completes talks over the future of Darfur and Sudan” with Kadhafi, JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP.
“And even if Sudan said it would close its border with Libya, it doesn’t have enough soldiers to do so,” he said.