Sudan rejects GERD's second filling; urges legal, comprehensive deal

Ahram Online , Monday 19 Jul 2021

Khartoum said it has adopted a host of fitting measures to spare the country the potential negative effects of the unilateral filling

GERD second filling
Photo posted by Ethiopian Minister of irrigation Seleshi Bekele of the completion of the second filling of the GERD. Twitter

Sudan announced on Monday its rejection of the unilateral second filling of the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia declared complete earlier today.

In an official statement, the Sudanese irrigation ministry reiterated the downstream country's "constant" rejection of the unilateral measures taken by Ethiopia, accusing the upstream country of attempting to impose fait accompli policies and ignore both downstream countries' "legitimate interests and serious concerns."

Addis Ababa earlier today announced that it has completed the second-year filling of the hydropower dam’s reservoir, nearly two weeks after it started the process that was executed despite the lack of a legally binding agreement with Sudan and Egypt, the other downstream countries.

Sudan said the Ethiopian approach will only harm the "distinguished and historical" ties between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, according to the statement.

Khartoum called for continuing negotiations in good faith to reach a legally binding, comprehensive agreement that preserves the interests of all parties involved and addresses their concerns, particularly the safe operation of the Roseires Dam.

Tripartite negotiations faltered earlier this year after Ethiopia refused to include other mediators in the talks, as Egypt and Sudan requested, to help the African Union, the current mediator, with securing the long-awaited deal.

Cairo and Khartoum have resorted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which convened over the decade-old issue on 8 July. The 15-member body representatives called for resuming negotiations and called on all parties to avoid taking any unilateral measures.

"It is never too late … reaching the hoped-for deal is necessary, reachable, and available if the political will is present," the statement assured.

Cairo and Khartoum see eye to eye on the importance of securing a legal deal guaranteeing binding rules for filling and operating the Ethiopian dam in a manner that does not cause significant harm to the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples, who rely on the Nile as the main source of freshwater.

Ethiopia, which hopes the controversial multi-billion dollar hydropower dam will support its economic development goals, seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam's filling and operation rules that can be modified at any time at its discretion.

Sudan said the unilateral filling of the GERD would threaten the lives of millions of its people living downstream of the dam, jeopardise the operational safety of its dams, and consequently risk Sudan's national security.

Addis Ababa did not announce the amount of water it has stored in the dam's reservoir, amid media reports that they failed to meet its target of 13.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water, holding only 3 bcm due to technical problems.

Last summer, Ethiopia unilaterally retained 4.9 bcm of water in the GERD's reservoir, which has a capacity of 74 bcm.

In Monday's statement, Sudan reassured its citizens that a host of "befitting" technical and administrative measures has been taken in order to the potential negative effects of the unilateral filling be spared.

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