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Saturday, 31 July 2021

Sudan threatens legal action if second GERD filling commences without agreement

'We are ready with several scenarios, with technical and legal plans if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling without notification,' said Sudan's irrigation minister

Zeinab El-Gundy , Friday 23 Apr 2021
File Photo: A handout satellite image shows a closeup view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. REUTERS

Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Friday that Sudan would take legal action if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in July without first signing a legally binding agreement.

“We are ready with several scenarios, with technical and legal plans if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling without notification,” Abbas said in a statement published on social media.

The Sudanese minister said that if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling without reaching a deal, Sudanese legal teams will sue the Ethiopian government and the Italian company constructing the dam with the help of an international law firm.

The lawsuit would be based on the ecological and social impacts of the GERD.

“It is currently being studied whether to file the lawsuit before the International Court of Justice or COSEMA court,” he elaborated, adding that Sudan is continuing its diplomatic and political efforts to have the international community support the talks to reach a legal binding agreement.

According to Abbas, Sudan has taken precautions by storing water in its Roseires Dam for irrigation and drinking water in case the GERD reduces the water supply.

Abbas also revealed that Ethiopia’s decision to execute the first filling of the dam without a prior agreement or notification made Sudan suspicious of “Ethiopia’s intentions.”

“Ethiopia evades reaching an agreement and is working to buy time to make the filling of the dam a fait accompli,” he said in his statement.

He also said that Ethiopia rejected the invitation of Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok to hold a summit meeting of the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, saying that there is no need for such meeting and that it was better to leave the matter to the African Union.

“The African Union did not play any leading role; they were only observers, and we see that there was no serious mechanism to reach an agreement. Nine months have gone by in absurd talks, and [we] will not accept losing more time,” the Minister said.

The Sudanese irrigation minister also revealed that during the AU-sponsored talks, 90 percent of the points were agreed upon, but now, after eight months of negotiations, disagreements have renewed in all the points of contention.

“If the summit between the leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt succeed, we will return to negotiations, but if not, we will continue the political and legal escalation,” he said, referring to the Sudanese PM’s invitation, which is based on the 2015-Nile Declarations of Khartoum.

Abbas also spoke about the Emirati initiative regarding the Ethiopian-Sudanese border dispute, saying that it is initially an initiative for investment and economic cooperation in the Al-Fushqa territories.

“We suggested that we expand the Emirati initiative to include the GERD and turn it from a tension zone to a regional economic zone where there would be investments from the Emirates, the World Bank and the EU, and the dam would generate electricity for Ethiopia while Sudan contributes with agriculture investments to provide food for Ethiopia,” he said.

On Thursday, the Sudanese minister of irrigation met with the EU ambassador to Khartoum as well as the US Chargé d'Affairs in Khartoum to discuss the latest developments in the GERD issue, calling on the US and the EU to support Sudan’s stance in resuming talks to reach a legally binding agreement before the second filling.

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