Workers and machinery are seen at Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture was taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
CAIRO - 27 June 2020: The newly-announced technical and legal committee of a group of experts from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, with representatives from African countries, will finalize a binding deal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) within two weeks ahead of filling the dam with water in mid-July.
Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele announced that the committee would finalize the GERD agreement within 2 to 3 weeks.
In a virtual mini-summit grouping member states of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government to discuss the GERD file, the African Union and the three countries agreed to form the technical and legal committee tasked to reach an agreement in two weeks, and to avoid any unilateral action including the dam's filling before finalizing an agreement.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that Egypt is ready to resume negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia to reach a fair and balanced agreement on filling and operating GERD.
To ensure successful negotiations, all parties shall pledge not to make any unilateral decisions, as well as halt the dam's filling till reaching an agreement preserving the three countries' interests, Sisi said.
A letter with the AU meeting’s outcomes will be sent to the Security Council, as it is the international body with jurisdiction, in order to take it into consideration when holding a session to discuss the Renaissance Dam issue next Monday, announced Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement early Saturday.
Since 2014, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have entered into negotiations of the building of the dam to avoid any possible threats on the Nile downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan]. The latest round of the talks which convened early June reached a stalemate, ahead of the Ethiopian unilateral act of filling the dam’s reservoir mid July without reaching a final agreement among the three countries.
Egypt last week decided to request the United Nations Security Council’s intervention in the dispute on Ethiopia’s massive dam, after Egypt said several times that the two countries have been deadlocked over the dam.
The difference between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. Since then, the talks have been resumed, but In October 2019 blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation.