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Sudan calls on Africa to support binding agreement on Ethiopian dam


Mariam al-Mahdi (social media photo)April 18, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan has called on the African countries to support its call for a legally binding agreement on the Ethiopian giant dam before the second filling.

Foreign and irrigation ministers held an extensive videoconference briefing on Sunday with the African ambassadors in Khartoum about the failure of Kinshasa’s meeting and Sudan’s proposal for a four-way mediation led by the African Union.

Mariam al-Mahdi "explained Sudan’s firm position on the need to reaching a binding agreement before proceeding with the second filling of the dam from the Ethiopian side," said a statement released after the meeting.

We "look forward to African countries’ support to reach comprehensive solutions that are satisfactory to all parties," said the Sudanese top diplomat.

On the same day, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok issued a statement saying that the second filling of the GERD during the "heavy rainfall months of July/August" will reduce floods in Sudan.

"Ethiopia, in developing Abbay (Blue Nile) River for its needs, has no intention of causing harm to lower riparian countries," he further stressed.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has called for a "closed-door "meeting with his Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts on 23 April. But it is unclear if this virtual meeting would take place.

Al-Mahdi on Sunday released Sudan’s position on the GERD with a short statement saying that Ethiopia has "broken neighbourhood rules" when they carried out the first filling in July 2020 without an agreement and without alerting about it.

"Today they threaten 20 million Sudanese and the national security of Sudan when they say that they will carry out the second filling (without a legally binding agreement)," she stressed.

During the Kinshasa meeting, Sudan filed its proposal for a mediation led by the African Union with the participation of the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Khartoum says the four-way mediation is needed to bridge the gaps between the riparian countries over the few remaining issues.

The outstanding issues include a legally binding agreement to avoid future breaches, reference to water-sharing agreements and dispute resolution mechanism. Also, there technical issues related to the coordination with downstream countries during the filling process and how to deal with a possible drought in the future.

Ethiopia diverges with downstream countries mainly on two issues: the binding nature of the agreement and its proposal to introduce a water-sharing deal in any future treaty over the GERD.

Addis Ababa rejects a legally binding agreement and proposes instead the “Guidelines and Rules” for the filling and annual operation of the GERD. This document can be revised easily, and in some cases would even terminate automatically if the parties fail to agree on certain revisions in the future.

Ethiopia also proposes to include a provision about negotiating a water-sharing agreement within 10 years in accordance with the 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), which allows upstream Nile basin countries to develop projects along the Nile river.

Sudan and Egypt, which are not signatories of the CFA, say that the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD between the three countries does not speak about water-sharing.


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