Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok, stressed the need to reach a binding legal agreement about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Hamdok, in a meeting with chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat today in Khartoum, said “this would enable Sudan to go ahead with its development projects and avoid harm that could be caused due to lack of detailed information,” regarding the filling and operation of the dam.
The AU commissioner agreed that Sudan could provide the AU with further information about the controversial dam. He said the AU is “closely following negotiations,” which have stalled multiple times.
The AU said it is ready to provide the necessary help to facilitate reaching a final agreement among the three parties, following a meeting with Foreign Minister Maryam El Sadiq El Mahdi in Khartoum yesterday.
El Mahdi also stressed her country’s insistence on reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, read a foreign ministry statement.
Reportedly, she highlighted the importance of this issue and its effect on Khartoum’s vital interests.
The AU has been sponsoring the stalled GERD negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia since July last year.
The meeting also focused on the relationship between Sudan and the African Union, particularly with regard to the process of supporting the country’s democratic transition, peace processes, and economic development.
The AU commissioner stressed his support of Sudan in its efforts to render the transitional period successful.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mousa Faki, arrived in Sudan on Saturday, accompanied by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, and the Advisor to the Chairperson of the Commission, Mohamed Wad Labbad. The delegation completed their visit today.
The delegation also held meetings with some political figures and heads of African diplomatic missions in Khartoum and meet the head of the UNITAMS mission.
The dam, Ethiopia’s intention to fill it, and the ramifications to Sudan and Egypt downstream have been the subject of sharp and often fruitless negotiations, which are now progressing due to international efforts at mediation.
Last month, 22 NGOs warned of military confrontations between the three countries if the long-running dispute between the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the building, filling, and operating of the GERD is not resolved quickly.
"The project is expected to have profound effects on the future of the three countries and the African sub-region. While it represents an important development opportunity for Ethiopia as its prime owner, the impact of GERD on Sudan and Egypt cannot be overlooked", their statement read.
* Ethiopia began to build the GERD in 2011 at the source of the Blue Nile, near the border with Sudan, and the dam is currently in the final phase of construction. In August last year, Addis Ababa unilaterally began filling the dam reservoir.
The Blue Nile contributes approximately 85 per cent to the volume of the main Nile River. Both Egypt and Sudan heavily depend on the waters of the Nile to meet the demands of their growing populations.
The three countries signed a Declaration of Principles in Khartoum in 2015 as a basis for negotiations, but no agreement on the use of the Nile waters has been reached so far. More than once, negotiations under the auspices of the Africa Union ended in a deadlock. Recently, the EU and the USA have both expressed their willingness to mediate between the three countries.