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Sudan refers GERD issue to UN Security Council


A handout satellite image shows a view of the GERD and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia on July 12 2020. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)
April 19, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan called for the intervention of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to dissuade Ethiopia from carrying out the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before concluding a legally binding agreement.

In a letter to the UNSC on 12 April seen by the Sudan Tribune, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi said Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally carry out the second filling "will deepen the crisis and miss opportunities to reach an amicable solution".

Al-Mahdi requested the 15-member body to "Encouraging all parties to refrain from taking unilateral measures, including the commencement of the second year filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before a comprehensive agreement is reached".

The minister further asked the Council to press the parties to avoid "any other action that endangers regional and international peace and security".

Earlier this month, the three countries failed to reach a deal on a mechanism to mediate the talks on the outstanding issues particularly the legal nature of the agreement on the GERD filling and operation, drought period, dispute resolution mechanism, and exchange of data.

The Sudanese foreign minister also called on the Security Council to back its proposal for a four-way mediation to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam as soon as possible.

When Egypt referred the GERD issue to the Security Council for the first time in June 2020, Sudan at the time called to give the last chance for the direct talks under the auspice of the African Union.

However, Ethiopian’s demand to include a water-sharing deal in the talks on the hydropower dam and the unilateral first filling of July 2020 deepened mistrust between Sudan and Ethiopia.

Undue pressure on Ethiopia

In a statement released by the Ethiopian foreign ministry on Monday, Addis Ababa said Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen sent a letter on 16 April to the Council requesting to urge Sudan and Ethiopia to return to the negotiating table.

"The two countries chose to ’scuttling’ the negotiation and ’internationalizing’ the issue to exert undue pressure on Ethiopia," said the statement.

Mekonnen in his letter further said Sudan and Ethiopia "are not negotiating in good faith and are not ready to make the necessary concessions to reach a win-win outcome".

On 18 April, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry started a regional tour including Kenya, Comoros, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Tunisia to explain his government position on the GERD.

The six countries are members of the African Union Bureau of Heads of State and Government that facilitates the GERD negotiations.

For its part, the Egyptian irrigation ministry released on Monday a statement saying that the Ethiopian government seeks to carry out the second filling for political purpose.

The statement sought to explain that Ethiopia is not ready to generate power after the second filling and is not technically able to release the needed water to meet the needs of the downstream countries.


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