April 08, 2021
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia is keen to reinforce the African Union (AU)-led tripartite negotiation on the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) as the union is the best platform for resolving the dispute, according to Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister, Sileshi Bekele said Ethiopia strongly believes the ongoing negotiation led by the African Union has brought major progress on the Grand Renaissance Dam dispute, despite some setbacks in the mediation.
However, the minister pointed out that Egypt and Sudan attempted to undermine AU’s mandate saying “this is an unacceptable (forum) by any parameters.”
The negotiation in Kinshasa unfortunately focused on format and platform change request, especially by the Sudanese side, the minister revealed.
“The African Union has been facilitating a non-adversarial negotiation that tries to solve the problem and find win-win solution. But the recent demand for referring the matter to the heads of the state when the negotiation is going on makes it appear that the process has failed. But nobody has declared that the negotiation has failed,” Sileshi elaborated.
Moreover, Egypt and Sudan also followed an approach that seeks to undermine the AU-led process and to take the matter out of the African platform.
He underscored that changing the already agreed African Union-facilitation format is not constructive as the union is capable enough to bring a comprehensive solution and move it quite a long way.
“We have a capable institution with many institutions and the chairperson, a leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with 80 million population, is surrounded by many capable individuals and experts as well as researchers who could give very good advice to move the facilitation. However, the downstream countries are trying to diminish the role of AU and make it a co-facilitator with other parties,” he explained.
To break the continued delaying tactics and the obstruction of the two countries, Ethiopia proposed new strategic solutions towards creating a conducive atmosphere and progressive confidence, Sileshi pointed out.
Accordingly, Ethiopia proposed a proper reciprocal data exchange and conclusion of the rules and guidelines for the filling of the dam in the next 3 to 5 years.
Finally, it was agreed that South Africa, the United States and the European Union that have been selected as observers play enhanced role in the negotiation.
The tripartite talks are expected to be completed in eight weeks, with further talks to be held in accordance with the direction of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was learned.