File Photo: Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed (Photo: Reuters)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Monday that Ethiopia wants to produce electricity from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) without posing any threat to downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
In a meeting with members of the Ethiopian House of Representatives, Ahmed called on various world leaders to understand the real intention of constructing GERD, adding that Ethiopia wants to address its electricity shortage.
“Here, Ethiopia’s interest is just to address its demand for electricity, to reduce the concerns of Sudan and Egypt as well as to bring lasting peace and prosperity to our region,” he said.
He added that by planting billions of seedlings in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt can get more water than they already do.
“We only want peace and prosperity. We are willing to pioneer new paths and work together,” he stated in the parliamentary meeting.
Ahmed's statements come as Ethiopia gears for the second filling of the GERD in July despite Egypt and Sudan’s rejection of the filling absent a legally binding agreement on the dam’s operation.
The second filling will collect around 18.4 billion cubic metres of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 billion cubic metres withheld during the first filling last year.
Sudan fears the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires Dam and the lives of 20 million Sudanese people at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating its operation and filling is not reached before the second filling.
Sudan rejects discussing water shares during GERD talks
Meanwhile, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Sunday that Sudan totally rejected any discussion concerning the River Nile water shares during the GERD talks with Ethiopia, Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported.
In a meeting with French Ambassador to Sudan Emmanuelle Blatmann in Khartoum to discuss the latest developments of GERD talks, Abbas asserted that the GERD talks are only concerned with the filling and operation policies of the dam.
France is the president of the United Nations Security Council. On Thursday, the council will hold a special session to discuss the GERD issue as per the request of Egypt and Sudan.
During the meeting, Abbas revealed that despite the fact that in the past 10 years, talks over GERD were all about its filling and operation policies, Ethiopia changed its position from July 2020 and began to speak about the Nile water shares, which Sudan rejected explicitly.
The Sudanese minister added that talks between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia were held under the auspices of the African Union from June 2020 to February 2021 during which time 90 percent of the points of contention were resolved.
However, now that the talks have reached a deadlock, disputes have increased, he added.
Abbas said Sudan has suggested the formation of a quartet made up of the AU, UN , EU and the US and that Egypt supported the suggestion but Ethiopia rejected it.
The international quartet committee was not going to replace the AU, he stressed.
Sudan won’t join new rounds of talks as long as there is no agreement over a change in the negotiation mechanism to give observers and experts a bigger role, Abbas said.
The minister stated that the GERD crisis was a political issue due to its complexities and should not be regarded as a technical subject.
Abbas also spoke with the French diplomat about how the pros of GERD will turn to cons and disasters as long as a legally binding agreement is not signed.
Ethiopia has already taken the decision to go ahead with the second filling in July and the Ethiopian authorities began to build a middle passage inside the GERD, he stated.
During the meeting, Abbas demanded world countries to pressure Ethiopia to accept the legally binding agreement.