Sudan's prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo
CAIRO – 24 June 2020: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk affirmed that his country is a genuine party in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, and that Sudan will continue to exert efforts to reach a solution that is acceptable by all parties.
In a Wednesday statement issued by the Sudanese Cabinet, Hamdouk said that he received a phone call from the United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to discuss the latest updates regarding the Ethiopian Dam negotiations.
Mnuchin praised Sudan’s efforts to reach a balanced and fair solution for Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt. For his part, Hamdouk thanked Mnuchin for the US continuous support to the negotiations among all three countries.
Sudan to address UN Security Council
In a Wednesday press conference, Sudanese Minister of Water and Irrigation Yasser Abbas said that his country is studying submitting a letter to the United Nations Security Council to clarify its stance regarding the Renaissance Dam. “We believe that all countries have the right to address the Security Council. It is a legitimate right for all.”
“Despite we believe that negotiations are the best way to reach a fair and just solution regarding GERD, all countries have the right to address the UN Security Council, the African Union or any other international entity,” Abbas added.
Abbas stated that halting GERD negotiations was not due to certain articles, but rather because of consultations at the level of heads of state.
“It was obvious that disputes were related to three main legal points: The agreement’s obligation, the dispute resolution mechanism, and if it is concerned with water-sharing or only filling and operating,” Abbas explained. “Therefore, Sudan expects the resumption of negotiations any time after solving these three points between the negotiating parties.”
Regarding Ethiopia’s announcement that it will start filling the dam in the beginning of July, Abbas said that Sudan has studied all different scenarios and is ready for all of them; however, he has high hopes that the Sudanese prime minister's efforts will help claim and clarify the whole current picture.
Ethiopia announced earlier that it would begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July even after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan failed to reach a deal governing how the dam will be filled and operated.
Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry warned in an interview with the Associated Press on June 21 Shoukry that filling the reservoir without an accord would violate the 2015 Declaration of Principles governing their talks — and rule out a return to negotiations.
“We are not seeking any coercive action by the Security Council,” he said. In a three-page letter to the council, Egypt asked the council to call Ethiopia back into talks for a “fair and balanced solution” and to urge it to refrain from unilateral acts, warning that filling the dam without a deal “constitutes a clear and present danger to Egypt” with repercussions that “threaten international peace and security.”
On June 22, Shoukry negated that Egypt is escaping negotiations of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by referring the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
Shoukry said that Egypt has engaged in negotiations with Ethiopia for nearly a decade, which dismisses any possibility that the country is avoiding talks. He added, “Egypt is always ready to engage in any negotiations to reach a fair agreement that serves all three countries' interests."
Shoukry further challenged Ethiopia to immediately resume negotiations and declare compliance with the international obligations that stipulate not to fill the dam unilaterally.
“Egypt wants the United Nations Security Council to undertake its responsibilities and prevent Ethiopia from starting to fill its massive, newly built hydroelectric dam on the Nile River in July amid a breakdown in negotiations,” Sameh told AP.
"The responsibility of the Security Council is to address a pertinent threat to international peace and security, and certainly the unilateral actions by Ethiopia in this regard that would constitute such a threat," the minister clarified.
On June 19, Egypt called the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue, asserting the importance of continuing the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in order to reach a fair and just solution for all three countries.
Egypt stressed the need to prevent any unilateral measures that might affect the chances of reaching a balanced agreement.
Egypt's request to the Security Council was based on Article 35 of the United Nations Charter, which allows member states to alert the council to any update that might threaten international peace and security.
Renaissance Dam impact
In a Tuesday statement, Abbas said that the potential positive effects of the Renaissance Dam on Sudan could turn into risks, without reaching an agreement on the dam’s filling and operation.
He added during a meeting with representatives of the Sudanese Central Council of the Forces for Freedom and Change that there is a possibility of damages related to the unsafe operation of the Sudanese water tanks in case of lack of coordination and data exchange with Ethiopia.
Abbas clarified that the Renaissance Dam could be a gesture of regional cooperation between the three countries, represented in providing energy from Ethiopia, food from Sudan by using its agricultural lands, and industrial investment in the Egyptian capital. This is in addition to establishing a joint market that promotes this integration.
Abbas also affirmed Sudan’s importance in reaching a legal and binding agreement on filling and operating the Renaissance Dam without mentioning the distribution of Blue Nile water shares.
In a document titled “Dam of the Renaissance, the effects and ongoing negotiations”, Head of the technical staff Saleh Hamad reviewed the results of the studies on the dam, highlighting the dam’s effects on the country along with the filling and operation negotiations outcomes.
The paper highlighted the initiative of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdock and explained that the negotiations covered nearly 90 to 95 percent of the technical aspects related to the dam’s safety and security, along with the social and environmental impacts.
Saleh stressed that Sudan is an inherent party in the negotiations, not a mediator or a neutral member.