Meetings between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to re-launch negotiations over GERD resume Monday

Menna Alaa El-Din , Monday 5 Apr 2021

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry described the meetings as 'the last chance' for the three countries to reach an agreement during the coming months before the next flood season

GERD negotiations
From Right to Left - The foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan sit in a theatre in the Fleuve Congo Hotel in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday April 4, 2021. REUTERS

Meetings between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan aiming to re-launch deadlocked negotiations over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) resumed for a second day on Monday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-hosted closed meetings, which Egypt described as the “last chance” to revive GERD talks before Ethiopia executes the second filling of its mega-dam, will conclude today.

On Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during the Kinshasa talks, which began earlier Sunday, that Egypt has maintained a genuine political will over the past 10 years to reach an agreement in the GERD dispute.

Shoukry said an agreement should achieve Ethiopian developmental goals and, at the same time, protect the interests of Egypt and Sudan.

He described the meetings as "the last chance" for the three countries to reach an agreement during the coming months before the next flood season.

Egypt is keen on resolving points of contention that have hampered previous rounds of negotiations, he said.

The foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries are taking part in the talks.

Sudan said on Sunday that Ethiopia had raised the stakes in the negotiations by pushing to re-open talks on the distribution of Nile water.

“I invite all to make a new start, to open one or many windows of hope,” Felix Tshisekedi, president of the DRC and head of the African Union (AU), who is the mediator for the negotiations, said ahead of the talks on Sunday.

Kinshasa’s talks come a few days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warned of consequences in the region if Cairo’s water supply was affected by the dam.

El-Sisi said there would be “inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine”, stressing that his message is “not a threat.”

His comments came in response to a continued deadlock in the talks and an insistence by Ethiopia to move forward with a second filling of the dam — set to take place in July — despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan to the execution of such a move in the absence a legally binding deal.

The second filling aims to collect around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.

Sudan has proposed an international quartet made up of the AU, the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the US to mediate the talks which last collapsed in January.

Although AU-sponsored GERD talks last year included the AU, the US, and the EU as observers, the Sudanese proposal aims to introduce the UN to the talks and turn the four parties into mediators rather than mere observers.

Egypt fully backs the Sudanese proposal on the quartet, stressing the importance that the renewed talks be effective and serious to maximise chances of success.

Egypt’s 100 million-plus population is dependent on the Nile water for 95 percent of its renewable water needs.

The country fears that the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity level.

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