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Egypt calls for international solution to dispute over Ethiopian dam filling

GERD (Reuters (photo)
June 21, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Egypt has urged for an international intervention to prevent the unilateral filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) recalling that UN member states are entitled to protect their vital interests and ensure their survival.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan failed during a recent round of talks to strike a deal over the filling of the Renaissance Dam. After finalizing the technical discussions, Addis Ababa refused to commit itself to any binding agreement with the downstream riparian countries.

In a letter to the UN Security Council on 19 June, seen by Sudan tribune, Sameh Shoukry the Egyptian Foreign Minister said that his country remains to the ongoing efforts to reach a "balanced agreement" on the GERD.

"I must emphasize that the U.N. Charter entitles UN Member States to protect their vital national interests and ensure their survival," Shoukry said before to add that the unilateral filling and operating the mega-dam "could have serious repercussions that threaten international peace and security"

The Egyptian minister said they wanted to draw the attention of the international community to this situation underscoring that it might lead to international friction or endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.

"I am also requesting that the U.N. Security Council urgently consider this matter at the earliest possible opportunity under the agenda item titled Peace and Security in Africa," he said and demanded to invite his country to this meeting.

Ethiopian officials say that they would begin the filling of the GERD reservoir as planned next July and point that Egypt seeks to control their development plans to protect its own interests.

The Nile river is the only source of water for Egypt, while the Blue Nile which rises in Ethiopia provides 85 per cent of the overall flow of the transboundary river

Now, Ethiopia with its over 100 million inhabitants says the power that would be generated by the GERD is vital for its development projects.

Egypt proposes that the first filling process lasts for ten years to preserve its needs in water but Ethiopia says it wants to end this operation within four to seven years, as it projects to construct two other dams in the future.

Sudan’s preference

In response to the Egyptian letter, the Sudanese irrigation minister Yasir Abbas said that his government still believes that tripartite talks are the most effective way to reach a settlement to the disagreement on the first filling of the GERD.

For his part, Omer Gamar Eldin state minister for foreign affairs told the BBC Arabic that his country does not support resorting to the Security Council to resolve the dispute over the Renaissance dam.

Already on Saturday, the Sudanese foreign minister Asma Abdallah called on Egypt and Ethiopia to negotiate in good faith and to prioritize cooperation to achieve in the interests of the peoples of the three countries.

"The recent negotiating rounds of talks on the Renaissance Dam, have made significant progress on the technical issues. This (development) strengthens the conviction that it is important for the three countries to adhere to the option of negotiation, as the best way to reach a comprehensive and satisfactory agreement," Abdallah said.

Sudan had refused to sign a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia over its demand for technical cooperation and close coordination between the GERD and Sudanese dams on the Blue Nile.

During the recent videoconference meetings that Khartoum initiated, the Sudanese delegation sought to reconcile the positions of the two other riparian countries that distrust each other.

(ST)