Thu, 16 Jul 2020 - 01:03 GMT
FILE - Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
CAIRO - 16 July 2020- Few hours after Ethiopia announced the start of filling the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with water on Wednesday without reaching a final agreement with the Nile downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan) on the rules of filling and operating the dam, the Sudanese Ministry Irrigation and Water Resources affirmed that the Blue River water level at the border with Ethiopia declined by 90 million cubic meters daily.
Sudan added that the measurements indicated that the Ethiopian Renaissance dam’s gates were closed, preventing millions of cubic meters of water.
“Some local and international media outlets reported information and satellite images indicate that Ethiopia has started filling the Renaissance Dam with water before reaching a deal on the first [phase] of filling and the operation,” the Sudanese ministry said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources asked its concerned bodies to measure the level of Blue river to investigate the accuracy of such information. It became crystal clear, throughout measuring the water level at Al-Daim border station with Ethiopia, that there is a decline in water level equivalent to 90 million cubic meters daily and that confirms the closure of Renaissance Dam’s gates,” the statement read.
Sudan renewed its rejection of any unilateral measures taken by any party, amid the ongoing efforts of the AU, chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying “The outstanding points of contentions could be agreed on if the political well exists.”
Meanwhile, Egypt has requested an “urgent official clarification” from the Ethiopian government, saying ““Egypt continues to follow up on the developments on what has been circulated by the media around this issue,” according to a statement Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), the state-owned T.V, reported on Wednesday that Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele announced the start of filling the dam with water with 4.9 billion cubic meters in the first stage of filling process. However, the EBC apologized for publishing the “misinterpretation” of this news.
በኢትዮጵያ የአደጋ ቅድመ ማስጠንቀቂያ ሥርዓት መዘርጋቱን የሰላም ሚኒስቴር አስታወቀ ******...
Despite the Sudanese measurement indications on the decline in water level, Seleshi Bekele said on his unverified Twitter account that the “inflow into the reservoir [is] due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling.This continues until overflow is triggered soon.”
“In fact, predicted heavy rain this year is expected to cause huge flooding in the region,” he added.
1/2 The GERD construction has reached level 560m compared to level 525m last year this time. The inflow into the reservoir due to heavy rain fall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling.This continues until overflow is triggered soon.— Seleshi Bekele (@seleshi_b_a) July 15, 2020
The Ethiopian announcement of filling the dam comes shortly after announcing that the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia did not achieve any progress or an agreement.
Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday that the negotiations on GERD between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia will continue as per the African Union vision; however, the parties still did not reach an agreement.
He said in press statements that the current negotiations did not achieve any progress or an agreement with the Ethiopian part.
Shoukry added that a report shall be submitted to the African Union, then a meeting between the presidents of the three countries shall be held to realize an agreement.
The Sudanese government said Tuesday that the country submitted a report on the GERD to the African Union after the end of the negotiations between the ministers of irrigation of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopian.
The report mentioned that not much progress was achieved during the negotiations that lasted 11 days.
Since 2014, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have entered into negotiations on the building of the dam to avoid any possible threats on the Nile downstream countries. The latest round of the talks which convened early June reached a stalemate, ahead of the Ethiopian unilateral act of deciding to fill the dam’s reservoir mid-July without reaching a final agreement among the three countries.
Egypt previously decided to request the United Nations Security Council’s intervention in the dispute on Ethiopia’s massive dam, after Egypt had said several times that the two countries have reached a deadlock.
The conflict 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. 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.