GERD negotiation resumes with Sudan’s reservations
The on and off negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt regarding the first filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have resumed with Sudan’s strong opposition to the procedures.
During a trilateral virtual meeting of Ministers of Water Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the three countries, in the presence of the Minister of International relations and Cooperation of South Africa on November 19, 2020, discussions were held on how the negotiations on the Ethiopian Dam on the Abay River would resume.
In a statement Ethiopia issued following the meeting, it indicated that an “Understanding is reached on the need to continue the negotiation on the first filling and annual operation rules of the GERD.”
But the statement admitted that the Sudanese delegation put negotiation conditionalities to its participation in the negotiations without disclosing what exactly the conditionalities were.
Although the Ethiopian side said that the technical meeting is expected to resume under the chairmanship of Ethiopia’s Water Ministry, the Sudanese side expressed their concerns regarding the procedure of the negotiations. The negotiations are expected to resume within 10 days.
In a similar meeting held on November 4, 2020, the three countries failed to agree on the agenda items that required enhanced roles of African Union experts as well as the European Union, the United States and the Terms of Reference for upcoming negotiations.
The reservation made by the Sudanese side involves its requirement of the establishment of a mediation body.
A statement issued by the Sudanese Irrigation Ministry said, “During the meeting, Sudan stressed that it would not continue negotiations under the previous approach. Further, it demanded to return to the African Union to endorse the role of experts and to boost the negotiations politically to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all parties.”
Furthermore, the statement accused South Africa of violating the procedures by not notifying the African Union Bureau of the processes and the request for enhanced role of AU experts.
The Sudanese position stems from the fruitless negotiations that have been going on for more than eight years which sometimes resulted in accusations directed towards Sudan for siding with Egypt.
The Egyptian side of the delegation also called for the quick resumption of negotiations.