Sudan, Ethiopia agree to resume GERD talks, activate committee on border issues

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Mon, 14 Dec 2020 - 02:35 GMT

FILE - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok - Reuters

FILE - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok - Reuters

CAIRO – 14 December 2020: After withdrawing from the tripartite negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in November, Sudan declared agreeing with Ethiopia on resuming talks and activating the High Joint Committee on Border Issues by convening it next week.

 

That was after a visit paid by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok – accompanied with Foreign Minister Omar Kamar El Din and chief of the General Intelligence Agency - to Addis Ababa on Sunday. The visit was planned to last for two days but Hamdok returned to Khartoum after a few hours without any clarification on the reasons.

 

Hamdok and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed congrued on the necessity of holding an IGAD summit as soon as possible. The IGAD region comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

 

In July, an IGAD summit - chaired by Sudan – convened to discuss ways of dealing with COVID-19 outbreak and its repercussions.

 

Some Ethiopian groups used to cultivate lands in Sudan's Fashqa region for decades, which was tolerated by overthrown leader Omar al-Bashir but is no longer accepted by the transitional government. In May, Ethiopian militias attacked a camp in the eastern city of al-Qadarif killing and wounding several Sudanese military personnel and civilians.

 

It is noted that 50,000 out of 950,000 displaced Ethiopians fled to Sudan because of the fighting initiated by the Ethiopian federal government against the Tigray region. 

 

In November, the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian sides did not reach an agreement on a methodology for completing negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources said in a statement.

 

The dispute among 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.

 

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.

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