Egypt, Sudan reject Ethiopia’s unilateral plan to start second GERD filling with or without deal: El-Sisi

 

March 06, 2021

 

This procedure may threaten [to cause] serious damage to the interests of Egypt and Sudan,” El-Sisi said in a press conference in Khartoum


Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (L) meets with head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan in Khartoum, 6 March 2021 (Photo Courtesy of the Presidency)

 

By Amr Kandil | Ahram Online

 

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reiterated on Saturday the Egyptian-Sudanese rejection of Ethiopia’s announcement to implement the second phase of filling the Ethiopian dam’s (GERD) reservoir even if a binding legal deal is not reached among the three countries.

“This procedure may threaten [to cause] serious damage to the interests of Egypt and Sudan,” El-Sisi said in a press conference in Khartoum with the Head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan.

El-Sisi went on an official visit to Sudan, where he also met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Vice President of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. All the meetings witnessed the discussion of the GERD issue among other issues of cooperation.

During the press conference with Al-Burhan, El-Sisi affirmed that Egypt and Sudan – as the downstream countries – will be directly affected by the huge project.

“We affirmed the necessity to return to serious and effective negotiations, with the aim of reaching a just, balanced and legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the dam, at the earliest opportunity and before the next flood season,” El-Sisi said during the press conference.

The president said the legal agreement must take into consideration the interests of all three countries.

“Our visions coincided on the rejection of any approach that is based on endeavours to impose a fait accompli and extend control over the Blue Nile, through unilateral procedures that do not take into account the interests and rights of the two downstream countries,” El-Sisi said.

The president added that this approach was embodied in the Ethiopian unilateral announcement.

El-Sisi also said that he discussed with Al-Burhan the means to launch the GERD negotiations through forming a quartet committee composed of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and United States to mediate in the talks.

“This is the mechanism proposed by Sudan and endorsed by Egypt and which seeks to support the efforts of President Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to maximise the chances of success of the negotiations’ path,” the president added.

“We affirmed our full confidence in his Excellency’s ability to manage and achieve a breakthrough in these negotiations in order to reach the desired agreement,” El-Sisi added.

Meeting with Hamdok, the president urged for intensifying Egyptian-Sudanese efforts during the coming period with the aim of reaching a binding agreement on GERD, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said.

El-Sisi and Hamdok affirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation between the Nile Basin countries with the aim of achieving sustainable use of the

River Nile’s water resources, in a way that helps achieve joint interests of the people of the three states and avoid any harm to any country.

Comprehensive peace deal

During the press conference with Al-Burhan, El-Sisi congratulated Sudan’s signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan, calling it a “historic achievement”.

“[The agreement] was achieved after major efforts that were crowned in success as a result of sincerity from all Sudanese parties and their keenness to enter with the dear Sudanese nation to a new era of peace, development and prosperity that includes all people of Sudan,” the president said.

“I would like to affirm to you that Egypt would remain with you heart and soul, supporting your efforts for [achieving] development, stability and prosperity to the brotherly Sudanese people,” the president added.

Sudan’s transitional government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front signed the comprehensive peace agreement last year in South Sudan’s Juba to end decades of conflict in Sudan.

Developmental cooperation

During the Hamdok meeting, El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s keenness in boosting bilateral cooperation with Sudan in various fields, including the implementation of electricity linkage and rail linkage projects.

The president also affirmed keenness to boost trade and economic relations between the two countries and to create an appropriate environment for the establishment of joint developmental projects within the industry and in agriculture.

El-Sisi also stressed the need to activate the activities of the joint technical committees as well as the MoUs and protocols of the bilateral cooperation signed by the two countries.

Hamdok affirmed Sudan’s keenness to provide the required atmosphere for cooperation with Egypt in various strategic, developmental fields.

Hamdok affirmed that his country also relies on the Egyptian role in supporting the ongoing Sudanese efforts to cancel or restructure foreign debts on Sudan.

Issues of mutual concern

El-Sisi, during the press conference with Al-Burhan, said that they discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern, within the framework of the link between the national security of each of both Egypt and Sudan.

The president said his discussions with Al-Burhan on the issues of mutual concern came “with the aim of unifying joint efforts between the two countries, which seek to achieve stability on the Arabic and African arenas”.

“I would like, in the end to take this dear occasion to express my full confidence [in] that the next stage of joint work and cooperation between our two countries will continue in various fields, guided by common vision, clear determination, solid political will and sincere efforts by Cairo and Khartoum,” the president said.

Al-Burhan thanked the Egyptian president for accepting the invitation to visit Sudan, saying the that Sudan needs consolidating efforts and support during the current transitional period.

“The Sudanese state is now going through a transition phase that is facing many difficulties … a transition that needs concerted efforts and needs the support of friends and brothers,” Al-Burhan said during the press conference.

“This visit is a real support for Sudan and for the revolution as well as the people of Sudan,” Al-Burhan added.

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