Sudan considers addressing UN Security Council over Ethiopia's disputed dam

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Jun 2020

Sudan demands signing a deal before starting the filling of the GERD, saying the safety of the Sudanese Roseires dam directly relies on the operation of the Ethiopian dam

File photo taken on December 26, 2019, a worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopi
File photo taken on December 26, 2019, a worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP)

Sudan's Irrigation Minister Yasser abbas has said his country is considering sending a letter to the United Nations Security Council to clarify its stance on the disputed dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, after both Cairo and Addis Ababa submitted letters to the UN body.

Cairo asked the UNSC on Friday to intervene to restart talks between the three countries to reach a "fair and balanced" agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) after Addis Ababa declared it would begin filling the dam's reservoir in July, even without a deal.

Egypt told the Security Council in an official letter that Ethiopia's unilateral filling of the dam would "constitute a threat to international peace and security", and Ethiopia sent a letter to the council three days later to defend its stance.

Renewed negotiations brokered by Khartoum on the mega hydropower dam reached a deadlock last week after Addis Ababa refused a legally binding deal and instead suggested guiding rules that can be modified or cancelled, Egypt and Sudan said.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the Sudanese minister revealed that his country has received an invitation from Ethiopia to resume negotiations over the dam, saying "the Sudanese government reiterated its stance that going back to the negotiating table requires political will to resolve outstanding contentious issues," according to Sudan's state news agency SUNA.

He expressed his country's fears over the operation and safety of the Ethiopian project which he said could endanger Sudan’s own dams.

"Sudan demands signing a deal between the three countries before starting the filling of the Renaissance Dam as the safety of the [Sudanese] Roseires dam directly relies on the operation of the Renaissance Dam," he stressed.

The Sudanese minister said last week that his country wants to ensure the water releases from the GERD are coordinated with water levels at its Roseries dam, located around 100 kilometers from the Ethiopian dam.

The latest round of talks between the three countries, held virtually between 9-17 June, came in response to a call by Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, after a previous round of negotiations in Washington stalled in February after Ethiopia pulled out of a meeting that was due to result in a final accord.

The Sudanese minister told Wednesday's briefing that Hamdok's initiative was the "most appropriate framework for resolving disputes over the operation" of the Ethiopian dam.

Abbas said a draft agreement presented by Sudan,during the latest talks can work as "a basis for consensus between the three African countries".

He said that the current differences between the three nations are mainly related to the legal aspects, the singing of a legally binding agreement not linked to water sharing accords, a mechanism to settle disputes and a few technical issues.

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