Meetings between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, which aim to re-launch deadlocked negotiations over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), have been extended for a day after talks on Monday concluded with no progress due to persisting differences.
According to Sky News Arabia, the African Union (AU) sponsored talks, which took place on Sunday and Monday, have been extended to Tuesday morning to allow for the drafting of a concluding statement after an intervention by Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and current chairman of the AU.
Ethiopia has refused to accept a recent Sudanese proposal to invite international mediatiors to resolve the 10-year-old dispute.
Sudan has been pushing for an international quartet made up of the AU, the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the US, to mediate and break the deadlock, due to what it described as the “ineffectiveness” of last year’s negotiations under the AU.
Egypt backs the Sudanese proposal.
Although the AU, the US, and the EU participated in the previous AU-sponsored negotiations as observers, the Sudanese proposal aims to introduce the UN to the talks and turn the four parties into mediators rather than mere observers.
The AU-sponsored trilateral talks in Kinshasa were attended by Congolese President Tshisekedi in his first bid, as chairman of the AU since February, to resolve the dispute.
Last year, South Africa, as chairman of the AU in 2020, mediated trilateral talks to resolve the dispute, but in vain.
Egypt has described the talks in Kinshasa as the “last chance” to revive the GERD negotiations before Ethiopia executes the second filling of its mega-dam.
Kinshasa’s talks come a few days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warned of consequences in the region if the country's share of the Nile water was harmed by the dam.
El-Sisi’s comments came in response to a continued deadlock in the talks, as Ethiopia continues to insist on moving forward with a second filling of the dam — set to take place in July — despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan to 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.
Egypt and Sudan have consistently pursued reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam as a way to resolve the dispute.
Ethiopia has repeatedly refused to sign any legally binding agreement.