Sudan rejects 'fait accompli policy' in GERD dispute

Ahram Online , Monday 18 Jan 2021

Sudan reiterated the necessity of reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the near-complete dam to preserve the interests of all three nations

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Reuters

Khartoum has said it "will not accept the imposition of a fait accompli policy" in the dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), referring to Ethiopia's intention to embark on the second filling of the dam's reservoir in July despite a lack of agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and the Sudanese higher committee for following up on the GERD developments held a meeting on Monday, where it was stated that risking the safety of 20 million Sudanese whose lives rely on the Blue Nile is unacceptable.

The meeting reiterated Sudan’s stance on the necessity of reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the near-complete dam to preserve the interests of all three nations, Sudanese news agency SUNA reported.

Also, the meeting dealt with the potential hazards of Ethiopia's anticipated step to start the second filling of the dam in July without reaching an agreement.

The meeting highlighted the consequences of this step, if it happens, on the safety of the operation of the Sudanese Roseires Dam, which is located close to the GERD, and other water facilities in the country.

In a step that angered Sudan and Egypt, Addis Ababa declared last summer that it had achieved the first-year filling (4.9 billion cubic metres) during the rainy season flooding of the Blue Nile.

Days following the move by Ethiopia, Sudan announced that it had recorded a decline in water levels on the Blue Nile coming from Ethiopia.

Both downstream countries have repeatedly reiterated their rejection of taking any unilateral action without reaching a binding agreement.

Khartoum and Cairo have been in talks with Addis Ababa for a decade to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the $4.8 billion mega-dam, which has been under construction on the Blue Nile since 2011.

The Sudanese remarks come almost two weeks after Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas sent a letter to the African Union (AU), the current mediator of the dam negotiations, expressing his country’s grave concerns over Addis Ababa's announcement that it would go on with the second filling of the GERD in the summer of 2021.

Monday's talks, attended by Sudan's cabinet members and directors of the General Intelligence Service and Military Intelligence, came a week after the latest round of GERD talks failed to resolve the differences between the three countries.

The talks tackled alternative options after the halt of the AU negotiations, according to SUNA.

The last round of negotiations came to a standstill over Sudan’s withdrawal due to its rejection of the methodology upon which the negotiations were held, calling for a bigger role by the experts assigned by the AU to reconcile opinions instead of the direct trilateral talks.

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