Trilateral Talks over Ethiopia’s Dam Adjourned, Again

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have adjourned their talks over the filling and operation of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for the second time in a week.

The three nations suspended their talks last Tuesday after Sudan and Egypt withdraw from the tripartite negotiations with Ethiopia saying they need to do internal consultations after Addis Ababa proposed a new draft of filling guidelines.

The three Nile nations were expected to continue their negotiation on Monday and submit an interim and final report to the chairperson of the Africa Union in two weeks’ time since the AU bureau meeting held on 24 July 2020.

However, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water said talks planned for today has been adjourned to an additional week at the request of Sudan.

“Two weeks have elapsed without an actual negotiation due to Egypt and Sudan’s requests to adjourn meetings,” said the Ministry in a statement issued on Monday afternoon.

Last week, Addis Ababa proposed its draft guidelines of the filling of the dam, in line with the understanding reached by the water ministers of the three nations during their meeting last Monday to work on a common document.

Sudan and Egypt, which opted to suspend the meeting for consultation, are yet to make the outcome of their respective internal consultation official.

“Ethiopia remains committed to the tripartite negotiation as a negotiated agreement is the only option,” Addis Ababa said.

The meeting is expected to reconvene on Monday, August 17, 2020.

The Dam, which is being built about 15 km from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, has become a source of disagreement between the three countries.

African Union, the host of the talks, said the negotiating parties have already agreed on over 95% of the technical issues of the long-term process.

The issues at stake in the talks include how the dam will operate during “dry season” and whether the agreement and its mechanism for resolving disputes should be legally binding.

Both Egypt and Sudan fear the $4.6 billion hydroelectric dam project could affect the flow of the Nile River.
Ethiopia which contributes 80 percent water of the Nile river downplays this said it is a hydroelectric dam that will support its power-starved economy and increase electricity to its citizens.