Egypt says Ethiopia's GERD proposal goes back on agreements, excludes legally binding mechanism

Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 4 Aug 2020

A general view of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia (AFP)

Egypt has criticised an Ethiopian proposal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that it said violates agreements from previous rounds of negotiations, and, alongside Sudan, has asked the AU to suspend the tripartite negotiations on the mega-dam in order for internal consultations on the proposal.

According to the Egyptian irrigation minister statement, the irrigation ministers had agreed on Monday that technical and legal committees should discuss the points of contention between the three countries on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However shortly before the meeting Egypt and Sudan received a letter from the Ethiopian irrigation minister including an attached draft of “Guidelines and Rules of the filling of the dam", as it was titled by the Ethiopian irrigation minister.

“The draft of the guidelines and rules did not include any rules for the operating and nor any element that reflects the legal binding of the agreement. In addition to the absence of any legal mechanism to settle disputes,” The Egyptian ministry of irrigation said.

The statement said that the Ethiopian letter violates what had been approved and agreed upon on Monday during the ministerial meeting which focused on the necessity to solve the points of contentions before submitting them to the ministers on Thursday.

From its side, Sudan slammed the Ethiopian proposal saying that it was violating the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015. It also added that the proposal linked the agreement of the Dam’s operations policies with reaching an agreement on the Blue Nile watere.

In letter sent to the AU, Khartoum said that it may not continue in the talks if Ethiopia insists on its position.

Earlier on Tuesday Ethiopia's irrigation ministry sent its "Guidelines and rules on the filling of the dam"

According to the statement the meetings shall resume on Monday 10 August after Egypt and Sudan requested to be adjourned for internal consultations.

Talks between the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed yesterday via video conference, under the auspices of the African Union and with the attendance of observers and experts from EU Commission, the US and the African Union.

It was announced that the three nations had agreed that the technical and legal committees on the dam were to hold meetings to discuss points of contention on Tuesday and Wednesday, before presenting their conclusion at a ministerial meeting on Thursday.

Last month, Addis Ababa announced that it had completed the first-year’s filling of the dam’s reservoir.

The first round of AU-sponsored talks over the project ended two weeks ago – just before the Ethiopian announcement -- without reaching an accord.

At a subsequent mini-summit, the leaders of the three countries agreed on the need for continued discussions over the filling and operation of the mega-dam.  

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