Sudan refutes Ethiopian statements on water, border agreements

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Sun, 02 May 2021 - 12:36 GMT

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters

CAIRO – 2 May 2021: The Sudanese Foreign Ministry issued on Saturday a press statement asserting its commitment to international agreements and treaties on Nile River water.

 

The ministry noted it follows the recurrent talks by Ethiopian officials alleging Sudan of forcing Ethiopia to abide by what they call "colonial agreements" on Nile water and borders.

 

Sudan pointed out to the norms of international relations whereas states and governments abide by the treaties and agreements signed by previous governments and regimes. It added that withdrawing from such agreements and treaties by issuing press statements and mobilizing public opinion because of local political reasons are irresponsible acts.

 

"Such acts would poison the climate of international relations and make it subject to unilateral will causing chaos and damaging the bases of the Good Neighbor Policy in which Ethiopian-Sudanese relations have been rooted for centuries," the statement reads.

 

The Sudanese foreign ministry underscored that Ethiopian claims that such agreements are a colonial legacy that should be discarded are not valid because at the time they were signed Ethiopia was an independent country unlike Sudan.

 

"We would like to inform our neighbor, Ethiopia, that such a selective withdrawal from international agreements out of propaganda and local political reasons is a harmful and unaffordable mechanism that does not help in reaching an agreement that is negotiated and accepted by all parties," the statement indicates.  

 

The ministry elaborated that bringing to the table topics other than the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is unproductive and aimless as it would obstruct negotiations while impose a fait accompli that would come at the detriment of continental security and stability.

 

Concluding the statement, Sudan called upon Ethiopia to work jointly with its neighbors out of the principal of mutual interests rather than initiating hostilities with them to evade internal problems.

 

It is noted that in 1902 a treaty was signed by Ethiopia and Great Britain on behalf of Sudan stating that Ethiopia commits to not building any projects that hold water on the Blue Nile, and Lake Tana. In return, Ethiopia would annex Benishangul region that used to fall under the sovereignty of Sudan. That region was chosen to build the GERD, whose capacity is 74 billion cubic meters.

 

The annual shares of Nile River Water of Egypt and Sudan are 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic meters, respectively. Such shares naturally received by both countries were affirmed by upstream countries, including Ethiopia, in a 1929 agreement with Great Britain.

 

The goal of constructing the dam is installing 16 turbines to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity as Ethiopia does not face any water shortage unlike Egypt that suffers from water poverty. Egypt's annual per capita share of water declined to 570 cubic meters in 2018, whereas the international water poverty line stands at 1,000 cubic meters.

 

Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo.

 

The first filling was carried out in 2020 with 4.9 billion cubic meters. Currently, Ethiopia intends to do the second filling in July with at least 13 billion cubic meters.

 

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 concerning 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.

 

Washington had brokered tripartite negotiations among the three countries, in the presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020.

 

During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.

 

The latest round of talks that took place early in April failed to harness congruence on a negotiation mechanism. Similarly, Ethiopia had been rejecting enlarging the role of technical experts in negotiations per a proposal by Sudan earlier this year.

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