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Egypt seeks Nile water-sharing deal through GERD filling process: Ethiopia tells Security Council

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the Blue Nile in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia on 26 Spet 2019 (Reuters photo)
June 23, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Ethiopia rejected Egyptian claims that the first filing of the Renaissance Dam is a threat to peace in the region and accused Cairo of seeking to impose the Nile water-sharing agreement of 1959.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on 22 June sent a letter to the UN Security Council in response to a letter Egypt had filled to the 15 member body three days before.

on 19 June, Egypt had written to the Council urging its intervention to settle the dispute over the long term GERD filling saying that this process represents a threat to international peace and security

Andargachew in his letter, seen by Sudan Tribune, dismissed accusations of unilateralism and stressed his country’s keenness to pursue tripartite negotiations on the first filing of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and accused Egypt of seeking to internationalize the dam’s negotiations despite the "notable progress" made by the parties.

The Ethiopian diplomat went further to give his point of view saying that the discussions became difficult after Egypt insistence on "historic rights".

"The notion of "historic rights and current use" is a reference to the 1959 colonial-era Agreement between Egypt and the Sudan which divided the Nile waters between them, completely ignoring Ethiopia. Under this invalid and unfair deal, Egypt secured Lion’s share of the Nile waters".

He further pointed to the inclusion of 1959 agreement in the annexes to its letter before to say that this deal is the "crux of the matter" and the cause of the failure to achieve progress in the tripartite talks.

"In plain language, Egypt had made it a point to use the GERD negotiations to impel Ethiopia to endorse that unfair and unequal 1959 Agreement, which is anathema for Ethiopia, as it would be for any sovereign nation," he stressed.

During the recent round of talks initiated by the Sudanese government, the three countries almost finalized the technical discussions on how to carry out the first filling process but a big disagreement appeared when the parties moved to the binding legal status of the agreement.

The scope of the discussions became whether this agreement is limited to the filling and operation the dam, or it is also a water-sharing agreement.

The Ethiopian side proposed that the would-be-signed agreement be a "Guidelines and Rules" agreement on the first filling of the dam, also it said that this deal could be unilaterally modified in some aspects and even repealed in certain cases.

This new development was perceived as a clear denial of what had been done during the Washington process as the parties agreed on the binding character of the future agreement.

In his letter to the Security Council, the Ethiopian minister stressed his country’s commitment to what would be signed adding that this deal will be on the first filling of the dam but not as a water-sharing deal.

"It is no accident that Egypt falsely accuses Ethiopia of not wanting to be bound by the guidelines and rules under negotiation," said Andargachew.

"This comes from its latent motive of enforcing the guidelines as a water-sharing agreement to block future upstream development," he further stressed.

A Sudanese negotiator told reporters on 17 June after the suspension of the negotiations that Sudan refuses to involve the water sharing issue in the talks saying this deal should be dedicated only to the filing and operation of the GERD.

He further said that Ethiopia proposed to negotiate a water-sharing agreement within ten years.