Sudan says it will be most harmed by GERD unless binding deal is reached

Amr Kandil , Thursday 10 Dec 2020

Sudan will continue its efforts to explain its stance and the dangers its people and strategic facilities face, including the Roseires Dam, from the Ethiopian dam

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (photo: Reuters)

Mohamed Sharif Abdullah, under-secretary of the Sudanese foreign ministry, has said Sudan would be the country most harmed in case a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is not reached through negotiations.

Abdullah’s remarks came in an event organised by the Sudanese foreign ministry in cooperation with the ministries of water resources and information Wednesday to review with ambassadors from Europe and the Americas latest developments on GERD, which has been of concern to Khartoum and Cairo since 2011.

Abdullah highlighted the need to continue negotiations on GERD as the “only way” to resolve the ongoing dispute between the concerned countries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, read a statement released by the water resources ministry following the meeting.

Sudan will continue its efforts to explain its stance and the dangers its people and strategic facilities on the Blue Nile face, foremost of which is the 55-year-old Roseires Dam with a height of 78 metres, the statement quoted Abdullah as saying.

Sharif affirmed Sudan’s adherence to and respect for the mediation of the African Union (AU) on the GERD issue, hoping that the AU’s efforts can lead to a resolution that guarantees a binding agreement for all parties, in accordance with the latest negotiation mechanisms that the parties agree on.

He affirmed the need to grant AU experts a bigger role in ending the dispute between parties to the negotiations, on the basis of the “African solutions to African problems” principle.

Reaching a deal among the concerned parties through negotiations would not be a hard task in case they garner the required political will, explained Saleh Hamad, chairman of the technical body of the water resources ministry, and Hisham Abdu Kahen, legal advisor to the negotiation team.

There are a limited number of disputed issues among the three countries, compared to points they have agreed on, the two officials said.

They added that these remaining issues are technical and related to exchanging information on filling and operating the dam, noting that safe operation of the Roseires Dam cannot be guaranteed unless an agreement on these points is reached.

The Sudanese statement comes in line with recent press remarks by Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who noted that the three countries have agreed on 90 percent of issues concerning the dam.

The remaining issues need further discussion and political decisions, he added.

Last month, Sudan decided not to take part in a tripartite ministerial meeting on GERD that was scheduled to discuss guidelines for further negotiations, saying that the way previous talks were held proved to be "unproductive."

Sudan’s water resources and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, stressed last week that his country’s benefits from GERD cannot be achieved without signing a binding legal agreement.

Egypt and Sudan have insisted that the three countries sign a binding legal agreement on disputed issues surrounding GERD to safeguard the interests of the three parties, a demand repeatedly dodged by Addis Ababa over the last several years.

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