ADDIS ABABA – Egypt and Sudan have called for international mediation to end a long-running dispute over the construction of Ethiopia’s dam on the River Nile.
Both countries fear the dam could affect their water supply – a notion Ethiopia disagrees with as the dam will be used to produce energy.
The call came as the Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was on a visit to Sudan for the first time since the overthrow of its former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
During his visit to Khartoum Mr Sisi met Sudan’s civilian and military leaders.
The fact that these were separate meetings points to the somewhat awkward relationship between the different personalities in Sudan’s transitional administration.
But it seems they all agreed on one key issue: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
In a statement after the talks, Egypt and Sudan called for a new round of dialogue with an expanded mediation team to include officials from the African Union, the United States, the EU and the UN.
They said an agreement had to be reached before Ethiopia starts the next stage of filling the dam’s huge reservoir, which is expected to begin in June or July.
While Ethiopia says it is willing to keep talking, it wants to stick to the dialogue organised by the African Union and does not want to involve these additional international mediators – a proposal Ethiopia see as demeaning to AU-led negotiation.
“The tendency to invite various parties as mediators to the issue while the AU-led negotiation has not been finalized is demeaning the efforts of the AU,” said Dina Mufti, spokesperson of Ministry of foreign affairs, on Wednesday.
“We have been negotiating in good faith and in deep belief that we have got the right to utilize our water resources without significantly harm the downstream countries, in accordance with international law principles of fair and equitable utilization of the water resources,” he said.
Egypt has long opposed the construction of the dam because it relies so heavily on the water from the Nile. It’s possible that Sudan could benefit from it though – experts say there would be less flooding and Sudan could get electricity in return.
But in recent months Khartoum has hardened its position taking Egypt’s side.
With the two countries signing military agreements and forming closer and closer ties which reports say aims to put pressure on Ethiopia.
GERD is a source of national pride for Ethiopia with dam expected to give electric power to energy sterved economy.