Ethiopia proposed on Wednesday a meeting by the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) to end the ongoing stalemate over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
In a letter addressed to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed stressed that the way forward to break the deadlock in talks was through an AU-led process.
Ahmed's statements came in response to a letter by Hamdok last week in which he invited Egypt and Ethiopia to hold tripartite talks to discuss means to revive GERD negotiations following the collapse of AU-led talks earlier this month in the DRC capital Kinshasa.
“If parties negotiate in good faith, results are within our reach,” the letter by the Ethiopian PM said, adding that “Ethiopia still believes that the best way forward is to continue the trilateral negotiations under the AU-led process to reach a win-win outcome.”
Ahmed said that deeming the negotiation process a failure was incorrect because of what he described as tangible results, which included the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) and the establishment of the National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG).
Ethiopia and downstream countries Egypt and Sudan signed the DOP in 2015, while the NISRG was formed in 2018.
Ahmed's letter to his Sudanese counterpart comes days after Ethiopia had called upon members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to urge Egypt and Sudan to return to negotiations on the dam and respect the AU-led process.
The Ethiopian letter to the UNSC accused Cairo and Khartoum of “scuttling” the talks and “internationalising” the issue to put excessive pressure on Addis Ababa.
It came days after Egypt and Sudan sent letters to the UNSC explaining the latest developments in the decade-long crisis, requesting a resolution that prohibits Ethiopia from taking any unilateral action regarding the filling of the GERD before a legally binding instrument is reached.
The diplomacy war, which saw Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry embarking on an African tour this week to brief leaders of several countries on the GERD crisis, came after Egypt and Sudan rejected an Ethiopian proposal for data exchange on its disputed dam ahead of its planned second filling in July.
Cairo and Khartoum’s rejection of Addis Ababa's offer comes as tensions persist after the latest trilateral round of Kinshasa talks, held in an attempt to re-launch deadlocked negotiations, failed to result in an agreement.
Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiation mechanism, which includes an international quartet mediation, has led to a collapse of meetings and failure to reach an agreement over relaunching the talks.
Addis Ababa plans to move ahead with the second filling of the dam despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan to the move in the absence of a legally binding deal.
The second filling is meant to amass around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water in the GERD reservoir, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has repeatedly called on Ethiopia not to compromise Cairo’s share of Nile water, saying “all options are open,” and stressing that “cooperation is better than fighting.”
El-Sisi said earlier in April that failing to resolve the dam crisis will negatively impact the security and stability of the region.