Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok has written a letter to the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the USA to request formation of a ‘quartet committee’ to mediate in the negotiations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The US State Dept has already responded that the USA will continue to support efforts to resolve the disagreement on the GERD and encourage the resumption of a productive dialogue.
Hamdok’s letter of March 13 follows an agreement reached in Cairo last week between Hamdok and Egyptian President, Abdelfattah El Sisi, to continue their efforts to communicate with international parties to “expand the umbrella of negotiations on the GERD” and to implement the Sudanese proposal to have international parties join a quadripartite mediation, including the EU and the USA.
In the letter, Hamdok suggests changing the method used in the negotiations, which led to the failure to reach an agreement between the three parties during the past negotiation period, as well as establishing an approach based on the presence of the main international partners.
The Prime Minister’s letter stressed that the quartet aims to boost the role of the African Union in the negotiation process and that it is not an alternative to it. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the chair of the current session of the African Union, shall continue to coordinate and lead this quartet committee.
It indicated that the quartet would provide substantial international and regional support and will constitute the required guarantee to build confidence and to enhance the existing expertise in the field of cross-border water issues, affirming that the European Union, the African Union, and the United States were part of the negotiations, therefore they are aware of the situation on the Renaissance Dam.
Hamdok pointed out that the government of Sudan is concerned about Ethiopia’s declarations on its intention to implement a second filling of the Renaissance Dam in June 2021, without a binding agreement that guarantees the exchange of information, operation guarantees, environmental and social management, warning that any unilateral action for the filling will harm Sudan and threaten its national security.
Asked at a press briefing in Washington yesterday whether the USA was willing to engage in the GERD negotiations, Jalina Porter, State Department Deputy Spokesperson told reporters: “We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts to resolve the disagreement on the GERD. We understand the GERD is a major issue for the parties, and we certainly encourage the resumption of a productive dialogue.”
Multiple meetings over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the tense relationship between Khartoum and Addis Ababa took place in February, in preparation for the expected filling of the dam in July by Ethiopia. The GERD committee, headed by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, discussed the necessary precautions as Ethiopia begins filling the dam, as it did last year.
During the meeting, Hamdok warned that Ethiopia will start the second filling of the GERD next July regardless of any agreement. Various national agencies and institutions must prepare for the negative effects on Sudan’s irrigation systems, electricity networks, and drinking water along the Blue Nile and Nile rivers up to Atbara, if the dam is filled.