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Sudan rejects Ethiopian proposal for water treaty

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A satellite image shows the GERD and the Blue Nile on 26 June 2020 (Maxar Technologies- Reuters)August 4, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has strongly rejected an Ethiopian proposal to negotiate a treaty on the waters of the Blue Nile instead of a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam known as GERD.

On Tuesday, the Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation sent a letter to his Sudanese counterpart, Yasir Abbas, suggesting that "the agreement (under negotiations) be only on the first filling of the Renaissance Dam, while it links the operation of the dam in the long run to the conclusion of a comprehensive treaty on the waters of the Blue Nile."

The Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation said in a statement issued on Tuesday that Abbas, from his side, sent a letter to the South African foreign minister regarding the reversal of the Ethiopian position during the past few hours.

The talks on the GERD filling and operation are at deadlock due to their failure to reach an agreement on several sticky issues including future upstream developments, binding nature of the agreement and dispute settlement mechanism.

The Ethiopian government does not want to sign a legally binding agreement under the international law saying it would subject its future projects on the Blue Nile to the consent of Sudan, Egypt or an international court or arbitration body.

Sudan proposed that the agreement under negotiations protects Ethiopia’s right to future development as it plans to build two other dams on the Blue Nile. Also, the Sudanese proposal says that new negotiations on these projects should protect the interests of the downstream countries.

However, Ethiopia rejects the Sudanese proposal which is backed by the African Union experts. Addis Ababa says its future projects even if affect the would-be agreement on the GERD should not be considered as a breach because it exercises its right to use the Blue Nile waters.

The Ethiopian message "raises serious concerns regarding the current negotiation process, the progress achieved and the understandings reached, including those covered in the last report of the Bureau of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on 21 July," said the Sudanese minister

The Ethiopian proposal to link the filling and operation process with a treaty on the waters of the Nile represents "a major development and a change in the Ethiopian position that threatens the continuity of the negotiations," he added.

Further, the Sudanese minister called to remove the Ethiopian proposal saying that Sudan might withdraw from the current process, stressing that the proposal for a separate water treaty is a clear breach of the Declaration of Principles signed between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on March 23, 2015.

The Minister pointed to the serious environmental and social risks that the dam represents to Sudan and its people, in addition to the safety of millions of people residing on the banks of the Blue Nile, as well as the safety of the Roseires Dam saying all these factors reinforce the need to reach a comprehensive agreement covering the GERD filling and operation process.

Sudan "will not accept to pet the lives of 20 million of its people who live on the banks of the Blue Nile on reaching a treaty on the waters of the Blue Nile," he stressed.

The Egyptian position

In a statement issued in Cairo, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said that Tuesday’s meeting was dedicated to discussing technical and legal issues by the specialised committees.

"However, just prior to the meeting, the Ethiopian Minister of Water addressed a letter to his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts, with draft Guidelines and Rules for Filling the GERD which does not include any operating rules or any elements that reflect the legally binding nature of the agreement, as well as the absence of a legal mechanism to settle disputes. "

Ethiopian letter violated what was agreed on Monday, on the need to resolve the contentious points before a meeting of water ministers on Thursday, stressed the statement.

"Accordingly Egypt and Sudan requested that the meetings be suspended to conduct internal consultations on the Ethiopian proposal, which contradicts what was agreed upon during the AU Bureau Summit on July 21, 2020, as well as the results of the water ministers meeting on August 3."

(ST)

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  • 5 August 12:18, by The Rhino

    Ethiopia must stay firm and never allow anybody take away its national resource through some wicked agreements.As of July 15th 2020,the GERD should’ve been filled with waters.I recommend that Ethiopia scales up the filling procedures and move on swiftly to fulfill its national demands,interests and goals.Anybody who was deceived by the colonialists that River Nile streams from North to South......

    • 5 August 12:29, by The Rhino

      ...and so has all rights to dictate agreements,etc,can only blame himself.Ethiopia must categorically reject to be taken hostage for its own God given gifts or resources.Listen,the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea are big enough, both carry plenty of waters for others to go there and get their waters from, simple!

      • 5 August 13:33, by Mayendit

        Rhino
        You see your mind is not working properly, we are African in one continent and there’s no need of blocking natural water outlets. It was very foolish things by the Ethiopian officials to thought about blocking water instead, they should use wisely and not caused conflict between them and two others sharing Blue Nile River

  • 5 August 15:23, by Angelo Achuil

    May Egypt should study its Aswan dam about how a dam works. The GERD must allow water to pass for it to work.

  • 5 August 15:46, by Angelo Achuil

    And may be Egypt Gov’t should think about how they would have responded if Ethiopia’s shoes - all the the water in Ethiopia is mine!



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