Sudan warns of Ethiopian dam filling without 'legal binding agreement'

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Wed, 17 Feb 2021 - 04:03 GMT

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

CAIRO – 17 February 2021: The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Wednesday of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before reaching a legal binding agreement, as reported by Al Arabiyah.

 

The ministry added that it is not possible to postpone setting up the marks designating the borders between Sudan and Ethiopia in Fashaqa District negating Ethiopia's allegations about Sudanese forces infirtlating into its territories.

 

Sudan had summoned its ambassador to Addis Ababa to consult over the border issue as the district is experiencing escalating tensions that resulted in the death of dozens on both sides.

 

The Arab League announced earlier backing Sudan in all the measures it is taking to defend its sovereignty over its territories calling for pacification.

 

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 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 drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.

 

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. 

 

As for the border issue, 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. The area spanning over 250 square kilometers has been experiencing deadly clashes, and armed attacks by Ethiopian militias.

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