Sudan expresses frustration at the stalling of negotiations, but Egypt and Ethiopia blame Sudanese objections for the new impasse.
A new round of negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt aimed at resolving a long-standing dispute over a giant dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile has again failed.
The Ethiopian Renaissance Grand Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile basin since Ethiopia started there in 2011, with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan fearing to limit water supplies. vital.
The protracted dispute continued even after the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter-high (475-foot) dam began to fill in July.
Last week, the three countries agreed to hold new talks to agree on filling and operating the reservoir. But the latest virtual meetings between the foreign and water ministers “failed to reach an acceptable deal to resume negotiations,” Sudanese news agency SUNA said on Sunday.
Khartoum objected to what he said was a Jan.8 letter from Ethiopia to the African Union stating that Ethiopia was determined to fill the reservoir for the second year in July with 13.5 million cubic meters of water whether or not an agreement is reached.
“We cannot continue this vicious circle of circular talks indefinitely,” Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas said in a statement.
– Tilahun Adamu (@tilahun_adamu) January 10, 2021
However, Egypt and Ethiopia, in separate statements, blamed Sudanese objections to the talks for the new stalemate.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that although it had previously insisted on meetings with African Union experts, Sudan opposed their mandate and refused to include the experts in the meeting, thus ending the talks.
“Sudan has insisted on assigning experts from the African Union to come up with solutions to contentious issues … a proposal on which Egypt and Ethiopia have reservations,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa – who chairs the African Union, expressed her “regret that the talks have reached an impasse”, according to the Sudanese news agency.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, said hydropower produced by the dam will be vital to meeting the energy needs of its 110 million people and helping to reduce poverty levels.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all of its irrigation and drinking water, viewed the dam as an existential threat.
Khartoum hoped the Ethiopian dam would regularize the annual flooding, but also warned that millions of lives would be in “great danger” if no deal is reached.
He said the water discharged from the GERD dam “poses a direct threat” to the safety of the Roseires dam in Sudan downstream on the Blue Nile.
The Nile, the longest river in the world, is a lifeline that provides both water and electricity to the 10 countries it crosses.
Its main tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, converge on the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, before flowing north through Egypt to empty into the Mediterranean Sea.