Ethiopia Suggests Meeting of AU’s Bureau of Assembly to Break impasse in Dam talks

ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has suggested a meeting of Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union to break the impasse over dam talks between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

The Assembly is the African Union’s (AU’s) supreme organ and comprises Heads of State and Government from all Member States.

In a letter addressed of Sudan prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, the PM says the way forward on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations is to request the current Chairperson of the African Union, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, to call the meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU.

Prime Minister Abiy wrote the letter in response to the letter to his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok dated 13, April 2021.

Hamdok called for a tripartite summit between himself and his Ethiopian and Egyptian counterparts to resolve disputes, according to the Sudanese Council of Ministers said last week.

According to the failure of the recent meetings to achieve a breakthrough, the council said Sudan requested a closed meeting between the leadership of the three countries.

Abiy responds

In response to the letter, Prime Minister Abiy said assuming the negotiation process as a failure is not right.

Because we have seen some tangible results including the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) and the establishment of the National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG) and its work in relation to stage-based filling schedule, Abiy said.

The letter also cites the Kinshasa meeting, the understanding reached on the resumption of the stalled AU led trilateral negotiation, the agreement reached on the continued and the enhanced role of the observers, namely EU, South Africa, and United States, and the need for the current AU Chairperson to use resources at his disposal for the effective discharge of his facilitation role.

Acknowledging the legal and technical issues that need to be tackled for a win-win outcome, the letter also appreciates the AU-led process for providing the opportunity to the tripartite to deal with the most pressing issues in spite of the interruption nine times.

“If parties negotiate in good faith results are within our reach,” says the letter, and “Ethiopia still believes that the best way forward is to continue the trilateral negotiation under the AU-led process to reach a win-win outcome.”

The latest trilateral talks in Kinshasa failed after Egypt and Sudan proposed to take away the leadership role of the African Union and change the current observer role of the United States, United Nations, and European Union to mediators.

Following the Kinshasa meeting, Ethiopia said it will carry out the second filling of the reservoir behind the giant hydropower dam July/August rains season. Both Sudan and Egypt oppose the decision.