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Ethiopia seeks to include water-sharing in GERD process

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Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the Blue Nile in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia on 26 Spet 2019 (Reuters photo)

March 13, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Ethiopia seeks to include the Blue Nile water-sharing in the talks about the filing and operation of the giant hydropower dam, said the Sudanese irrigation minister on Saturday.

After 9 years of discussions, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan did not reach a deal over the filing and the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which is built 15 km from the Sudanese border.

The outstanding issues are the mechanisms related to how to file and operate the dam, the exchange of information and data, and how to deal with successive and prolonged drought periods.

Sudanese officials say there is no political will in Addis Ababa to resolve the remaining issues.

Yasir Abbas, Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk Saturday that Addis Ababa tried to include the water-sharing issue in the tripartite process in spite of the fact that it is not part of the Declaration of Principles agreement signed in 2015 determining the negotiating terms.

"Ethiopia is mistakenly believing that an agreement to fill and operate the dam would restrict its use of the Nile water in the future, while Sudan and Egypt affirmed their respect for Ethiopia’s right to develop the use of its water resources in the future in accordance with the principles of international law," Abbas said.

The Ethiopian government says planing to build other dams in the future mainly to generate power and becoming a power exporter for the region. Sudan, Kenya and South Sudan showed interest in these plans.

The Sudanese minister warned that filling the GERD without an agreement poses a direct threat to the lives of more than 20 million Sudanese citizens.
He further expressed hope that a legally binding agreement would be reached in the coming weeks on the filling and operation of the Dam before the second phase of GERD filling next July.

"Sudan is working hard to reach an agreement before Ethiopia begins the second phase of the dam filling. In this respect, we proposed to expand the negotiations under the auspices of the African Union.

If these efforts fail, then it is our right to defend the national security of Sudan and its citizens through all legitimate means guaranteed by international laws," he stressed.

Sudan proposes to abandon the direct talks between the three countries and to establish a quadripartite mediation team from the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States.

Egypt recently voiced its support to the proposed process increasing the regional and international pressure of the Ethiopian government. Previously, Cairo was opposed to a mediation led by the African Union.

Egypt has already referred the dispute over the GERD filing to the United Nations and was favourable to U.S and World Bank efforts to facilitate the tripartite process in 2019.

(ST)

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