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Thursday, 28 May 2020

Sudan’s stance on GERD at Arab League was ‘misunderstood’: Official

The Sudanese Sovereignty Council member said that Khartoum believes in safeguarding the interests of all three riparian countries affected by the Ethiopian mega-dam

Ahram Online , Thursday 26 Mar 2020
This file photo taken on December 26, 2019 shows a general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes
This file photo taken on December 26, 2019 shows a general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP)
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Sudanese Sovereignty Council member Siddiq Tawer believes his country’s stance on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been “misunderstood,” saying that Khartoum has sought to take into account the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan when dealing with the issue.

“The issue is not a fight between Cairo and Addis Ababa. Our country was neutral, but the whole issue should be managed in a manner that preserves the interests of all parties involved,” Tawer commented to Sputnik news agency.

In a statement on 8 March, Egypt's foreign ministry expressed disappointment with a statement issued by the Sudanese foreign minister concerning Khartoum’s reservations to an Arab League resolution supporting Egypt in its dispute with Ethiopia over the GERD.

The Sudanese foreign ministry statement said that it had reservations concerning the draft resolution proposed by Egypt because it was issued without any consultation with the Sudanese government.

The Egyptian foreign ministry, however, said it had been keen to inform the Sudanese representative at the Arab League about the draft resolution since 1 March, adding that Sudan had confirmed it had received the draft resolution, but did not share any comments with the Egyptian authorities.

According to the Egyptian foreign ministry’s response, the resolution stressed Arab solidarity with Egypt's water rights and international law concerning the GERD issue, and called on Ethiopia to sign the agreement drafted by the US Department of Treasury in February to regulate the operation of the mega-dam and the filling of its reservoir.

Tawer affirmed that his country’s stance may have been taken with some “sensitivity,” as Sudan “is supposed” to incline toward the Egyptian position.

“Egypt is a sister country and its people are our brothers and Ethiopia is a neighbour and sister state and we are keen on not harming the interests of both countries and likewise not harming the Sudanese interests, and this formula is not hard to overcome for the three countries,” he added.

In February, Ethiopian officials skipped the final round of US-sponsored trilateral talks in Washington over the giant hydropower project.

Ethiopia said it needs more time to deliberate the matter, and that it would commence filling in parallel with construction of the dam even though outstanding issues about the operation and the filling have yet to be resolved.

The US Treasury Department said that the subsequent agreement was drafted with input from the three countries and the World Bank and called on Ethiopia to sign it "at the earliest possible time."

Egypt, the only country of the three that has initialled the agreement, described it as "fair and balanced" and said it "achieves the interest of the three countries."

Ethiopia hopes the mega-dam will make it Africa's biggest power exporter.

Cairo, however, fears the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia's border with Sudan, would significantly diminish its water supply from the Nile, its major source of freshwater.

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