Trilatral talks over Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Fail

ADDIS ABABA – The latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have ended with no progress made.

Delegations from the three countries met in DR Congo’s capital, Kinsasha in an attempt to break a deadlock in negotiations over Ethiopia’s massive dam on the Nile river, a project Addis Ababa says is key to its economic development and power generation.

The negotiations has concluded Tuesday evening without a deal being reached, according to a communique released after they finished.

During the two days negotiation, discussions were held on the proposed enhancement of the role of observers.

Ethiopia agreed to accept the role of observers to share information and proposal when jointly requested by the Countries.

However, Addis Ababa said the African Union should maintain its leading the negotiations process.

Cairo and Khartoum insisted for the observers United States, European Union, the United Nations – to be granted the same role as the AU, a position Ethiopia say unacceptable.

“The two countries followed an approach that seeks to undermine the AU-led process and to take the matter out of the African platform,” Ethiopia said in a statement its Ministry of foreign affairs issued after the talks in Kinshasa.

The ministry also said Sudan and Egypt also stalled the resumption of the negotiation by rejecting a draft communiqué that  the deliberations during the two days meeting.
“Rather both countries attempted to obstruct the process,” it added.

“Ethiopia`s resolve to reach a settlement on the first filling and related operation of the dam failed to bear result due to Egypt’s and Sudan’s rigid stance to make the negotiation and the outcome a tool to affirm their self-claimed water share and foreclose Ethiopia’s share,” the Ministry added.

Officials said Ethiopia cannot enter into an agreement that would foreclose its current and future legitimate rights over the utilization of the Nile.

They insisted the second-year filling of the GERD will be carried out as scheduled pursuant to the Declaration of Principles (DoP), the three countries signed.

As per the DoP, Ethiopia will carry out the second filling in July and is set to store 13.5 billion cubic metres of water.

“The positions contesting the filling of the dam ahead of the conclusion of an agreement has no basis in law and contravenes Ethiopia`s inherent right to utilize its natural resource,” the Ministry said.

The GERD, whose planned capacity of 6,500 megawatts will make it the biggest dam in Africa, has been a source of tension since its first stone was laid in April 2011.

Ethiopia says the dam project is key to its economic development and power generation for its population of 110 million people.

But Egypt fears the dam will affect the flow of Nile water, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety. The two countries are currently engaged in military exercise aiming to developing joint air operation skills and executing air attacks on specific targets.

Last week, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said there would be “inconceivable instability in the region” if Egypt’s water supplies were affected by the dam.

The meeting is expected to resume around the third week of April 2021.

“Ethiopia expects the reconvening of the meeting upon the call of the current chair of the African Union,” its Foreign Ministry said.

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