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Ethiopia says GERD filling would start within two weeks

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the Blue Nile river in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia on September 26, 2019. (Reuters photo)June 27, 2020 (ADDIS ABABA) -Ethiopia still would be able to start the first filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as scheduled within two weeks, said the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday.

"Ethiopia is scheduled to begin filling the GERD within the next two weeks, during which the remaining construction work will continue," said a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The statement comes after an agreement reached on Friday in a meeting convened by South Africa’s President and Chairman of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, including Egyptian President and Ethiopian, Sudan Prime Ministers.

Also, took part in the meeting President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo who are members of the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government as well as Moussa Faki the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Ahmed’s office stressed that the three countries have agreed to "reach a final agreement on few pending matters" during this two-week period.

The Sudanese government on Friday said the two-week time frame was proposed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister.

The meeting further agreed that "the filling of the reservoir should be postponed until the signing of an agreement" between the three countries, further stressed Khartoum.

During a series of meetings from 9 to 17 July the three countries agreed on about 95% of the technical issues related to the filling process, but they failed to agree on the legal binding character of the agreement.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the matter on Monday 29 July following a letter filled by Egypt on 19 June followed by similar letters by Ethiopia and Sudan.

Nonetheless, the African leaders in their statement of Friday underscored that the Nile and the GERD are African issues that must be given African solutions.

Also, after the end of Khartoum hosted a virtual meeting, Sudan declined for the second time an Ethiopian offer for a bilateral agreement.

It is worth noting that Sudan wants a coordination agreement between the GERD and its dam on the Blue Nile to protect it. While Egypt wants an agreement on the amount of water released during the first filling period.

However, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials rejected an Egyptian attempt to discuss a water-sharing deal between the three countries.