Sun, 24 Jan 2021 - 03:12 GMT
FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - REUTERS
CAIRO - 24 January 2021: In a statement Sunday on the dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation revealed it “had made a diplomatic move to make the international community assume its responsibilities with regard to the Ethiopian threat putting half of the Sudanese people at risk.”
The ministry indicated that Sudan still adopts the principle of African solutions for African issues by demanding a bigger role for African experts affiliated to the African Union (AU). However, the country also believes that the international community can contribute in persuading Addis Ababa to abandon its rigid stance on the issue.
In the end, the ministry sent a message to Ethiopia saying that Sudan that had admitted its fellow African state’s right in building the dam, will not allow the filling and operation of GERD without a legal binding agreement that preserves the lives of 20 million Sudanese citizens and the safety of Sudan’s establishments.
Sudan does not accept a fait accompli in the case of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and has the means to respond with in such case, spokesperson of the Sudanese government Faisal Mohamed Saleh told Alsudani News website.
Regarding an African mediation, Saleh said mediation in its traditional fashion is no longer feasible, hence the methodology should be changed, and the role of experts expanded or expanding mediation to allow other parties.
“Negotiations is the only way; we do not want escalation. Our position is different from Egypt and Ethiopia. If any damage occurs, Sudan would be the part affected, so there must be an agreement that protects Sudan,” he said.
“There are no official negotiations at this time. We do not want escalation,” he added.
On Jan. 16, sokesman for the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Mohamed Suleiman has said that Sudan will not allow Ethiopia to impose its policy regarding the renaissance dam.
Suleiman's remarks came at a press conference on Jan. 15, he added that Ethiopia is implementing its policy of filling the dam without any consultation and before reaching an agreement in this regard. He added that Sudan will not accept this Ethiopian stance.
In mid-July 2020, Ethiopian authorities unilaterally carried out the first phase of the filling process with 4.9 billion cubic meters; and it is expected – as reported by the BBC- that the second phase of the filling would reach 13 billion cubic meters.
The dispute 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.
Washington had brokered a tripartite discussion between the three countries, in presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020 when Ethiopia apologized for being absent from the negotiations. 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, the Ethiopian and Sudanese refused to sign the US/WB-drafted deal.
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.