Sudan said on Tuesday that Ethiopia’s intransigence in the negotiations over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) obliges it to consider all possible options to protect its security and its citizens as per international law.
In a statement published on the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) following the collapse of the latest round of meetings in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, the Sudanese team said Ethiopia had insisted on pursuing the “old” methodology of negotiations, with observers following the negotiations, but without having the right to put forward any suggestions to assist the negotiators.
“Ethiopia had persistently rejected all proposals presented by Sudan to grant a role to international partners represented in [the] UN, AU, EU and the US to facilitate the negotiations and mediate between the three parties,” the statement read.
Sudan and Egypt have been pushing for international quartet mediation, made up of the AU; the United Nations (UN); the European Union (EU) and the US, to break the deadlock but Ethiopia balked at such a step.
The recent efforts to resolve the crisis come amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum first.
The Sudanese side said it clarified, during the Congolese-sponsored meetings, the potential perils of the second filling of the reservoir Addis Ababa intends to embark on unilaterally in July.
Sudan assured that the first filling, which Addis Ababa also executed unilaterally in July 2020, caused "grave" damage. It caused shortage in irrigation and drinking water in Sudan after a total of 3.5 billion cubic metres of water were held in only one week.
The second filling aims to collect around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.
"It is a real threat that cannot be accepted," the Sudanese statement stressed.
Both downstream countries have repeatedly pursued reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam, but the step has been repeatedly dodged or rejected by the upstream country.
Sudan fears the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires dam, which is located nearby the GERD, and the lives of Sudanese citizens – approximately 20 million Sudanese people – at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating its operation and filling is not reached before the second filling.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said earlier today that Egypt and Sudan will head to the UN and Security council to brief them on the latest developments in the ten-year-old issue.
In addition to the GERD dispute, tensions have been running high between Khartoum and Addis Ababa over the Al-Fashaqa region, where Ethiopian farmers have long cultivated fertile land claimed by Sudan.