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Sudan mulls Congolese proposal on GERD issue

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May 8, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government is considering a new initiative put forward by the chairperson of the African Union to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam; Khartoum said on Saturday.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi arrived in Khartoum on Saturday, starting a regional tour that includes Egypt and Ethiopia to discuss fresh proposals to end the deadlock over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Tshisekedi held two separate meetings with the head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who received him at the airport, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to discuss the GERD issue with them.

Following the meetings, the Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi told reporters that President Tshisekedi in his capacity as the AU Chairperson submitted an initiative on the GERD issue.

"The initiative is under discussion by the competent authorities," al-Mahdi further said.

She stressed that Sudan’s position on the dam is based on international law, previous bilateral agreements with Ethiopia and the Declaration of Principles on the GERD signed in March 2015.

The minister added that Sudan stands with the Ethiopian right to develop its economy, benefit from the waters of the Blue Nile and develop its resources, without prejudice to the rights of others, especially Sudan and Egypt.

Al-Mahdi reiterated that a legally binding agreement on the GERD filling and operation is crucial to reap the dam’s benefits by all the parties.

Also, the Sudanese top diplomat rejected the second filling of the dam unilaterally next July without a binding agreement.

Ethiopian concessions

In Addis Ababa, Dina Mufti Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying his country has accepted to make some concessions to reach a deal on the filling and operation of the giant dam under the auspices of the African Union.

"Ambassador Dina also talked about some of the concessions Ethiopia had to make to ensure the negotiations turn out successful, such as the willingness to exchange data and widen the role of observers so that they can offer their opinions and separately consult the negotiating parties," reads the statement.

During the Kinshasa meetings last April, the Egyptian foreign minister proposed to enlarge the role of the United States and the European Union who already attend the process but Addis Ababa rejected the proposition.

The Sudanese irrigation minister said that Addis Ababa rejects the four-way mediation because it includes the United Nations.

The U.S Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman discussed the Sudanese position on the GERD with al-Mahdi.

Feltman met with Hamdok and al-Burhan to discuss the border dispute with Ethiopia.

He is expected to travel to Addis Ababa where he would discuss the Tigray conflict with the Ethiopian officials besides the GERD and the border dispute.

The U.S. diplomat will also hold meetings with the African Union officials to explore their positions on these issues.

(ST)

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