Sudan FM Al-Mahdi to begin African tour to clarify Khartoum's stance in GERD dispute

Menna Alaa El-Din , Tuesday 27 Apr 2021

Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi's tour follows a round of visits by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to African capitals to explain Cairo's stance in the dispute

Sudan FM Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi

Sudan said on Tuesday that its foreign minister will begin an African tour to clarify Khartoum’s stance on the ongoing dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

According to an official statement, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi will begin the tour with a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to stress Sudan’s support to the chairmanship of the African Union (AU) in meditation efforts over the dam in order to reach a fair and satisfactory solution to all parties.

She will meet with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, the current chair of the AU, in Kinshasa to affirm Sudan's keeness on  reaching a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam in accordance with the principles of international law.

The tour will also include Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, the statement said.

The Sudanese foreign minister’s tour follows a similar tour by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who visited the DRC, Kenya, Comoros, South Africa, Senegal, and Tunisia for clarifications on the continued deadlock in talks over the dam.

The Sudanese foreign minister's tour comes a few weeks after the AU-sponsored Kinshasa-hosted talks, which were held earlier this month between the three countries - Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia - failed to reach an agreement on re-launching the deadlocked negotiations.

Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiations' mechanism, which includes an international quartet mediation, led to the collapse of talks in the DRC.

Egypt and Sudan have turned to diplomacy amid heightened tensions after the collapse of the AU-sponsored Kinshasa talks, briefing regional and international counterparts on stances and developments on the latest deadlock in negotiations.

Egyptian and Sudanese diplomatic efforts include sending letters to the UN Security Council to explain 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.

These efforts come as Ethiopia remains unwavering on forging ahead with the second filling of the dam — set to take place in July — despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan over the execution of such a move in the absence of 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.

On Friday, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said his country would take legal action if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling of the dam in July without first signing a legally binding agreement.

He said that if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling without reaching a deal, Sudanese legal teams will sue the Ethiopian government and the Italian company constructing the dam with the help of an international law firm.

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