AU calls urgently on finalizing GERD settlement; Ethiopia says does not want ‘binding agreement’

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Fri, 24 Jul 2020 - 04:21 GMT

CAIRO – 24 July 2020:The African Union called, Friday on Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to urgently finalize a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam, with the support of African Union experts and observers. 

In its statement, the AU said that the latest meeting on the GERD negotiations last Tuesday reflected a noticeable progress in the negotiations.

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This statement; however, comes in conjunction with Ethiopian statements rejecting to any binding agreement according to Al Arabiya.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry explained that it only seeks to reach a ‘guiding agreement’, not binding regarding the GERD legal and technical aspects.

On Tuesday a Mini-Summit was held via video conference between the three countries officials as part of the African Union-sponsored negotiations. The meeting was followed by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, in which he said that Egypt has ‘sincere desire’ to make progress regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations and its ‘points of contention’.

Presidency spokesperson Bassam Rady added in a statement that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed on prioritizing reaching legal agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam filling and operating and to be followed with another comprehensive agreement between the three countries.

Sisi added that achieving progress regarding the ‘contentious issues’ requires ‘political will’ which enhances the opportunities and exerted efforts along with supporting building-trust and achieving common interest between the three countries.

Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said following the summit that Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia agreed on continuing negotiations regarding Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, GERD to overcome ‘points of contention’.

Six officials and congressional aides told Foreign Policy, July 22, that The US administration is considering suspending some aid to Ethiopia, as Ethiopia’s prime minister announced the completion of the first filling of the Renaissance Dam, which heightened tensions with Egypt over fears of water shortage.

Earlier this year, The United States has announced it will continue to work with Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan until they sign an accord on the hydropower dam, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The three countries had expected at the time to sign an agreement in Washington on the filling and operation of the $4 billion dam, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialed the deal.

Mnuchin praised Egypt’s decision to initial the brokered document, which includes rules for filling and operating the controversial dam in Ethiopia. He also warned Ethiopia from filling the dam before an agreement is reached.

The sponsorship of negotiations by the US and the World Bank started in November last year after rounds of failed negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia.

The AU brokered a 11-day round of negotiations between the three countries to reach a final agreement on technical and legal points of contentions. However, the discussions reached another stalemate.

Egypt previously decided to request the United Nations Security Council’s intervention in the dispute on Ethiopia’s massive dam, after Egypt had said several times that the two countries have reached a deadlock.

Since 2014, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have entered into negotiations on the building of the dam to avoid any possible threats on the Nile downstream countries.

The conflict 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.

In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement over a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.

 

 

 

 

 

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