File Photo: The site of GERD in Guba, Ethiopia, taken on February 19, 2022. AFP
Kiffle Horo, the project manager of the controversial dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, told Al-Arabiya News Channel on Friday that the upcoming third filling of the dam will take place in August and September.
Horo ruled out the possibility of delaying the third filling of the dam despite admitting that Egypt and Sudan may be affected by the filling.
The two downstream countries have repeatedly urged Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral acts on the GERD, stressing that a legally-binding agreement on filling and operation of the mega dam has to be reached.
Addis Ababa has already unilaterally implemented the first two phases of the dam filling over the past two years and also started generating power from one of the dam turbines in February.
Over the past months, the three countries have expressed willingness to rejoin the African Union-sponsored talks on the GERD. However, Ethiopia’s plan to implement the third dam filling persists despite the absence of a binding agreement.
In a statement on Saturday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed its rejection of the Ethiopian remarks, which “poison the positive atmosphere that prevailed over the past few months, exacerbate tensions between the two countries and represent a breach for the previous agreements.”
The Ethiopian official’s remarks also represent a reversal for Sudan’s proposal to stick to the quartet of the United Nations, the United States, the African Union, and the World Bank in the negotiations process, the statement read.
The ministry called Horo’s remarks “irresponsible” as he ignored the unwavering Sudanese stance that opposes the filling and operation of the dam except after a fair and legally binding agreement is reached to achieve the interests of the three countries.
Horo’s remarks regarding Ethiopia’s filling plans despite the probable damage to the downstream countries indicate that Ethiopia wants to move forward with its previous unilateral steps, the statement said.
“It is surprising that the Ethiopian official did not care about the potential damage to the Sudanese side although he acknowledged the possibility that both Sudan and Egypt would be affected by the third filling process,” the statement said.
The Sudanese foreign ministry urged Ethiopian officials to desist from such “unregulated” statements and to abide by the principles of diplomacy through dialogue and negotiations as the mean of resolving the dispute between the three countries regarding the GERD.
The ministry stressed the need for adherence to the charters, covenants and the ongoing negotiation process in this regard, saying that they preserve the rights of the three parties in order to reach a comprehensive settlement of the GERD crisis that achieves the three countries’ common interests.
“This should prevent the blessing of the dam from turning into a curse,” the ministry said, reiterating acknowledgment of Ethiopia’s right to development without causing damage to Sudan.