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Monday, 19 April 2021

'We aren't against development in Ethiopia but without harming Egypt and Sudan': Egyptian PM

During a joint presser with his Sudanese counterpart, PM Madbouly expresses concern over Ethiopia's intention to go ahead with filling the GERD reservoir for the second year without prior coordination

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Mar 2021
Mostafa Madbouly
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok give a joint press conference after meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on March 11, 2021. AFP
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Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Egypt does not oppose Ethiopia's development goals that depend on its Blue Nile Dam, but without inflicting harm on the interests of both downstream countries; Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt and Sudan's stance concerning this issue is "based on preserving the historical rights and the interest of the two countries, in a way that does not harm the interests of [our] brothers in Ethiopia," said Madbouly on Thursday at a Joint press briefing with his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok in Cairo.

"These are our policies and fundamentals, we are not against development in Ethiopia, [but rather] we support it, but without harming the interests of Egyptian and Sudanese people," he stressed.

The Egyptian PM expressed concerns over Ethiopia's intentions in going ahead with filling the dam reservoir for the second year, without coordination with both downstream countries.

"We hope our brothers in Ethiopia will respond in the [up]coming period to reach a consensual track and a decisive solution for this issue," he added.

Concurring with Madbouly, Hamdok stressed the importance of reaching an "understanding" by which the dam issue is addressed without causing any harm to the three countries and in a way that fulfills their aspirations and interests.

"Last year, we witnessed the unilateral filling of the dam that took place in July, we also know that there is a tendency from Ethiopia to fill the dam next July, and this allows [us] a very short time to deal with the matter," added Hamdok, who arrived in Egypt earlier today for a 2-day official visit.

He expressed his hope in that the three countries can reach - during this short period - a consensus on the filling method and reach an agreement that allows this step.

Hamdok heads a high level delegation during the two-day visit, which includes Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam Al-Sadek Al-Mahdi, Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas in addition to, the head of Sudan's general intelligence as well as the ministers of health, planning, finance and international cooperation.

The visit comes days after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's visit to Khartoum earlier this week for talks with the Sudanese PM and Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, the Head of the country's Transitional Sovereign Council, on the latest in bilateral cooperation and the stalled negotiations on the GERD dispute.

Negotiation between the three countries over the near complete hydropower project has been stalled since January over objections, from Sudan, on the methodology upon which the African Union (AU)-led talks had been held.

The AU, under the presidency of South Africa, tried over the past year to help the three countries reach an agreement over the long-running dispute, with the last round being stalled in January due to Khartoum's withdrawal from the meetings in objection to negotiation methodology.

However, endeavours to relaunch the talks were renewed with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) chairing the AU in February.

Khartoum has proposed forming a quartet committee, involving representatives from the United Nations (UN), the US, and the European Union (EU), to mediate the talks under the supervision of the DRC.

Ethiopia officially rejected the Sudanese proposal last week claiming that inviting other parties as mediators in the decade-long GERD negotiations is "demeaning" to African Union efforts, the current mediator of the talks.

The efforts to resolve the crisis comes amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without first reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum.

Addis Ababa announced last summer it had completed the initial filling with 4.9 billion cubic metres of Blue Nile water in the GERD’s reservoir, while it announced plans to embark on the second phase of filling in July. 

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