Sudan resorted to UNSC because GERD poses a threat to regional security: Minister

Mohamed Soliman , Monday 5 Jul 2021

The Sudanese irrigation minister made the remarks during a presser on Monday, three days before the 15-member body is set to hold a session over the GERD issue


Sudan has asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) because the dam has become a threat to regional peace and security, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told a press briefing in Khartoum on Monday.

The UNSC is set to meet on Thursday over the matter at the request of downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, who raised the matter with the UNSC after the African Union-sponsored tripartite negotiations with Ethiopia reached a deadlock in April.

Khartoum, which sent a detailed letter to the 15-member body earlier in June, asked the council to support the principle of mediation in resolving the outstanding legal and technical points that are derailing the negotiations, a step at which Addis Ababa has repeatedly rejected, Abbas said.

The minister also called on the council to urge all parties involved from taking any unilateral measures, including the filling of the multi-billion-dollar dam’s reservoir, which Ethiopia remains intent on doing despite the lack of an agreement with Khartoum and Cairo.

Earlier this year, Addis Ababa rejected a proposal made by Khartoum and backed by Egypt to include the US, the EU, and the UN in the talks as mediators alongside the African Union, the current mediator.

The decision to resort to the UNSC was made by Sudan and Egypt as there seems to be no sign that an agreement is on the horizon, with Addis Ababa still adamant on proceeding with the second filing unilaterally.

Up to 13.5 billion cubic metres of water are expected to be collected by the dam’s reservoir during the flood season, which started in July.

Sudan fears the unilateral filling of the reservoir would threaten the lives of millions of its people living downstream of the dam, jeopardise the operational safety of its own dams, and consequently risk Sudan's national security.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its fresh water, fears the dam will significantly affect its water share if a legally binding deal is not reached.

"We hope the Security Council would respond to our demands… our expectations are positive, but we do not know the final result [of the session],” Abbas pointed out.

"Our demands are logical and clear and contribute to solving the issue," Abbas added.

Regarding what steps will be taken following the Security Council session, Abbas said, "Sudan has prepared all scenarios, but it hopes the council will give sufficient attention… let us wait for the session and see the result."

Tentative agreement

Minister Abbas said that given the time constraints and the foreseeable harm to Sudan’s Roseires dam, Khartoum has agreed to Ethiopia's proposal to sign an interim agreement on the second filling of the GERD, but under certain conditions.

The interim agreement should include all points agreed upon over the last round of negotiations and would remain valid until supplanted by another permanent and comprehensive deal, which would not include any articles on Nile water-sharing, said the Sudanese minister.

Abbas said negotiations between the three countries should merely focus on the filling and operating rules for the GERD in accordance with the Declaration of Principles signed between the three countries in 2015.

"Sudan refuses to discuss water-sharing agreements during the Renaissance Dam negotiations because they are irrelevant," he added.

Addis Ababa has been recently trying to inject a discussion of the agreements on Nile water quotas into the GERD negotiations, a matter that Egypt and Sudan reject.

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