Trilateral Talks over Ethiopian Dam Hit another Deadlocks

ADDIS ABEBA – The trilateral talks over Ethiopian dam has ended without agreement on Sunday following Sudan’s refusal to accept mediator’s proposal to expedite the negotiation.

Ethiopia has been in talks with Egypt and Sudan for a decade to find a solution regarding the mega dam. The key sticking point surrounds the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter-tall hydropower project and future water development of projects on the Abbay Basin.

Ethiopia claims the hydroelectric power produced at the dam is essential for it to meet the energy needs of its population. Ethiopia also insists downstream countries’ water supplies will not be adversely affected.

However, the lower riparian nations insist the maga dam would affect their water supplies.

Last week, these countries should have analyzed pending topics in order to move forward to establish an agreement, and they failed to do it again.

Sudan’s Stand

On Sunday, foreign and water ministers of the three Nile nations virtually held meeting, chaired by head of African Union Executive Council, to exchange views on the continuation of the trilateral negotiation.

“To assist the progress of the talks,” Ethiopia said, “the chairperson of the AU Council proposed for the three nations to a three days bilateral meeting with the AU designated experts followed by a trilateral meeting and report the outcome to the Council”.

“While Ethiopia and Egypt agreed with the proposition, Sudan declined compelling the closure of the meeting,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Next Step

The latest Sudan’s stand contradicts its previous stand. Earlier this week, Khartoum failed to attend an expert level discussion over the dam asking to hold a bilateral meeting with the African Union assigned experts first.

At Sunday’s meeting, however, Sudan “refused to have the bilateral meeting with the AU assigned experts as proposed by the AU chair, putting enhancement of the TOR of the experts as a prerequisite,” the statement said.

Ethiopia said it has already undertaken the initiative to immediately establish an effective and reciprocal data exchange mechanism in order to cater for the concerns of Sudan on Dam safety, data exchange and other technical issues.

Following this, the chairperson of the AU executive council will report to the chairperson of the African Union, which is mediating the talks.