April 09, 2021
Khartoum and Cairo did not refuse to include South Africa in the negotiations team as Addis Ababa declared, the Sudanese foreign ministry says
FILE PHOTO – Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
By Mohamed Soliman | Ahram Online
The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ethiopia refused a proposal to reach an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) within eight weeks during Kinshasa talks, denying Addis Ababa’s claim that Khartoum and Cairo refused a proposal to include South Africa in the negotiations team.
Ministerial and technical teams from the three countries participated earlier this week in a new round of talks sponsored by DR Congo, the current president of the African Union (AU), in a bid to re-launch the deadlocked negotiations on the Nile row, but to no avail.
In an official statement, reported by the Sudanese news agency SUNA on Thursday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the talks stumbled due to Ethiopia’s intransigence and its refusal to proposals presented by Sudan and Egypt.
The Sudanese negotiating team, the statement added, was eager to reach a win-win agreement that preserves the three countries’ interests, including Ethiopia’s right to development, provided that a binding agreement is signed on the dam’s filling and operating rules.
The Sudanese foreign ministry said Ethiopia, on the contrary, refused a Sudanese proposal to include the European Union (EU), the United Nation (UN) and the United States as mediators in the talks instead of observers.
Addis Ababa also refused another proposal tabled during the three-day talks, stating that the Congolese president coordinates – as the chairperson of the AU – with the international parties to facilitate the negotiation process and reach an agreement within eight weeks, the statement added.
“A proposal was tabled to involve South Africa [in the negotiations]. Sudan categorically welcomed and approved the suggestion. Egypt also welcomed it,” the sudanese statement noted, denying remarks made on the point by the Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation Seleshi Bekele, during a press briefing in the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday.
South Africa attempted as the AU’s former president to help solve the dispute over the past year via mediating various rounds of talks between the three parties, with the participation of the EU and the US as observers, but their efforts made no progress.
Sudan’s urge, which is endorsed by Egypt, to widen the mediations in the negotiations of the long-running row comes in rejection to the methodology upon which the past year’s negotiation rounds were held, which it described as “ineffective.”
After the collapse of Kinshasa talks, both downstream countries said “all options are possible” to deal with the dispute caused by the near-complete dam that Addis Ababa has been building on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile.
The tensions have mounted recently over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum first.
Sudan and Egypt, the downstream countries, have repeatedly pursued reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam amid concerns that the hydropower dam will affect their water shares, but the step has been repeatedly dodged or rejected by Ethiopia.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Wednesday that Egypt and Sudan will go to the UN and Security Council to brief them on the latest developments in the ten-year-old issue.