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Nile nations “undermining” dam talks – Ethiopia

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Ethiopia has accused Sudan and Egypt of deliberately holding back the progress of the trilateral negotiation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built on the Nile river.The spokesperson of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Dina on Tuesday said the two countries are following a system to take the GERD issues to the UN Security Council if they can, or to wait until the current African Union chairperson is replaced.

Last Sunday, Sudan announced its reservation to take part in the virtual talks which were supposed to be held over the weekend on the filling and operation of the dam, according to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy in Addis Ababa.

The ministry said Sudan had submitted a request requiring the three countries to hold a meeting with the AU experts and monitors, rejecting the trilateral talks with Ethiopia and Egypt.

Ethiopia and Egypt had accepted the bilateral talks with the AU experts and monitors as per Khartoum’s request.

However, Sudan on Sunday came up with a different idea and announced its decision that it will not hold bilateral talks unless the authority of the AU experts and monitors are clearly defined and jointly prepared by the three countries.

Sudan’s Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry early last week in a statement said Khartoum said negotiations should be held with African Union mediation.

Accordingly,  the virtual talks which was supposed to be held last Sunday between officials from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to resolve disputes over the filling and operation of GERD did not take place.

GERD, a 145-metre tall hydroelectric dam, whose construction is 75 percent complete, has been the source of severe tensions between the three countries for the past seven years.

Previous failed talks have only increased tensions. 

As Ethiopia continues with the construction of what it called a national strategic project, the question is “when” and not “if” GERD will begin operation. 

There is expectation that Khartoum will side with Addis Ababa during these talks in order to guarantee favorable terms on its own water sourcing.

Once finished, Addis Ababa foresees that GERD will give it significant geopolitical clout over its downstream neighbours, boosting its influence in the region.

Published on 10.02.2021

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