Sisi to Ramaphosa: Egypt rejects Ethiopia's unilateral steps regarding Renaissance Dam

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Fri, 26 Jun 2020 - 12:31 GMT

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a meeting with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa - FILE

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a meeting with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa - FILE

CAIRO - 26 June 2020: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a phone call from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the African Union in 2020, discussing the issue of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Thursday evening, announced Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.

The phone call between the two leaders tackled Egypt's request to the UN Security Council to intervene in the issue of the dam to reach a fair and balanced agreement that takes into account the interests of all parties, Radi said.

President Sisi affirmed Egypt’s rejection of unilateral steps [by Ethiopia] that would harm Egypt's rights to the Nile waters, Radi continued.

The South African President expressed his aspiration to intensify coordination between the two countries during the coming period, added Radi, noting that Ramaphosa praised the sincere and constructive political will that Egypt has always shown to reach a solution to the dam crisis.

On Wednesday, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the ways of resumption of the tripartite negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the dam.

They agreed on urging Egypt and Ethiopia to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, the statement added.

Since 2014, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have entered into negotiations of the building of the dam to avoid any possible threats on the Nile downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan]. The latest round of the talks which convened early June reached a stalemate, ahead of the Ethiopian unilateral act of filling the dam’s reservoir mid July without reaching a final agreement among the three countries.

Egypt last week decided to request the United Nations Security Council’s intervention in the dispute on Ethiopia’s massive dam, after Egypt said several times that the two countries have been deadlocked over the dam.

By referring the issue to the Security Council, in accordance with articles 34 and 35 of the United Nations Charter, Egypt requests the council to undertake its responsibilities in preserving international peace and security and pressurize Ethiopia into committing itself to the international law on international watercourses and refraining from filling the dam’s reservoir before a tripartite agreement is reached.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Wednesday urged the government to currently abide by the diplomatic path of negotiations, in an effort to solve the GERD crisis, the Presidency said.

Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and IRrigation Mohamed Abdel-Atti said in a statement that Ethiopia also sought to obtain an absolute right to establish projects on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile River. It also refrained from agreeing on including a binding legal mechanism to settle disputes and effective procedures to face drought in the GERD agreement, he added.

The difference between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.

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. Since then, the talks have been resumed, but In October 2019 blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil

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