March 14, 2021 (KHARTOUM – Sudan formally requested the African, the European Union, the United State and the United State to mediate the stalled process over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Sudan Tribune has learnt on Sunday.
“The Sudanese Prime Minister, who returned from Cairo on Friday, sent a message to the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is also the Chairperson of the African Union, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the U.S. Secretary of State, requesting their mediation in the GERD process,” a senior official told the Sudan Tribune.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan failed to strike a deal over the filling and operation of the giant hydropower after nine years of direct talks.
Last year, Ethiopia achieved the first phase of GERD’s reservoir filling without coordination with the downstream countries. Next July, Addis Ababa plans to launch the second phase even if no deal was struck between the three countries.
During Abdallah Hamdok’s visit, Cairo officially renewed its support for the Sudanese proposal to stop direct talks and establish international mediation headed by the African Union with an active mandate to break the deadlock in the tripartite negotiations over the GERD.
The Ethiopian government recently announced, through the official spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its acceptance of the African Union mediation without explicitly rejecting the European Union, America and the United Nations.
Sudan and Egypt believe that the matter represents an imminent threat to international and regional peace and security.
Foreign diplomats say if the second filling takes place unilaterally, this action might escalate tensions between the three countries, especially after the border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.
“Hamdok requested that the quartet should focus on the outstanding issues between the three countries,” added the Sudanese official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The outstanding issues are a legally binding agreement, inclusion or not of water-sharing in the talks, conflict resolution mechanism and technical issues related to drought period and data exchange.
Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Yasir Abbas, told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk Saturday that Addis Ababa tried to include the water-sharing in the GERD process but Khartoum and Cairo rejected the request saying it was not part of the Declaration of Principles agreement signed in 2015.
“Ethiopia is mistakenly believing that an agreement to fill and operate the dam would restrict its use of the Nile water in the future, while Sudan and Egypt affirmed their respect for Ethiopia’s right to develop the use of its water resources in the future in accordance with the principles of international law,” Abbas stressed.