FILE: Ethiopia rejected in February an agreement mediated by the US on the filling and operation of the dam.
CAIRO – 15 May 2020: Sudan has rejected an Ethiopian proposal to sign an initial agreement permitting the filling of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok on Tuesday sent a letter to his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed disapproving of an Addis Ababa proposal on an agreement over the dam’s first filling.
"I cannot accept the signing of a draft agreement to the first phase (filling the dam)
because it poses legal and technical problems that must be addressed," Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in a statement.
Director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies and Thought Khaled Okasha has said the Sudanese move brings the matter to its proper path, which relies on cooperation and negotiation.
Dr. Khaled Okasha
He explained that Ethiopia took advantage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to cancel all agreements, and according to point zero it was announced through its "populist" mechanisms that it pursued from the beginning.
The Ethiopian National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation to the Construction of GERD has already announced that Ethiopians have contributed over 530 million Birr (around $10 million) for the construction of the dam even after the breakout of the pandemic, according to Office Director-General Roman Gebreselassie.
Ethiopians have contributed millions of Birr for the construction of the dam even after the breakout of the pandemic, she noted.
The support has been all the more re-invigorated following the “mistaken stance” of certain countries, including the United States, to disregard the sovereignty of Ethiopia, she elaborated.
Okasha has affirmed that the move by the Sudanese Prime Minister came after Ethiopia’s intentions to go on with the project solely without consulting with Khartoum and Cairo became clear, threatening the interests of both countries.
This is in addition to the dangers related to the safety requirements of the dam, which the Ethiopian side has been ignoring, constantly pushing for the filling stage with an aim to aid internal and political conflicts through the construction of the dam, completely disregarding the sovereignty and authentic rights of Egypt and Sudan.
He added that Ethiopia is also seeking from this to blame the issue on both Cairo and Khartoum, according to flawed and outdated Ethiopian theories that claim disagreements between Egypt and Sudan.
Okasha further stressed that the new Sudanese government is now correcting many of the faults of the previous regime, which had been performing in contradiction with the Sudanese national interests.
Hamdok asserted in his letter the importance of realizing a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, adding that reaching a comprehensive agreement can only be achieved through an immediate resumption of negotiations.
"The only way to reach a comprehensive agreement is for all parties to go back to the negotiating table immediately," Hamdok added.
Ehtiopian obdurate position unchanged
The US Treasury Department and the World Bank stepped in as observers last year to facilitate talks between the three countries after negotiations repeatedly failed thanks to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia rejected in February an agreement mediated by the US on the filling and operation of the dam.
In response to the Ethiopian proposal, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country’s “unwavering commitment to concluding a mutually beneficial agreement on the GERD”.
Egypt asserted in a message sent in April to Ethiopia’s Ahmed that any agreement on the GERD must be comprehensive and must regulate the complete process of filling the dam.
Sudan's chief negotiator Hamad Saleh pointed out that his country is moving to resume the negotiations as per the agreement brokered in Washington, adding that his country’s movements could end up the resumption of negotiations.