Ethiopia: Sudan, Egypt tried to belittle the role of African Union

Ethiopia rejects the efforts by Sudan and Egypt to change the format of the negotiation

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The tripartite talks over the contested Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have been held in Kinshasa, a capital of Democratic Republic of the Congo, among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt and concluded on Tuesday fruitlessly.

The two-day talks concluded without any agreement was reached. Due to the “insistence from Sudan and Egypt to change the format of the negotiation” said minister of water, irrigation and power of Ethiopia, engineer Sileshi Bekele Speaking the local Amharic language on Press conference held yesterday.

Although the aim of the latest ministerial meeting was to come up with a road map for next negotiations to continue before the reservoir is filled for a second round, the talks failed once again with no progress made.

While the main disagreement between Ethiopia and Sudan & Egypt together on the same side, is that Ethiopia wants the talks over the Dam to be led solely by the African Union, Sudan & Egypt want international mediators like the USA, EU and UN to mediate the negotiation, other than the African Union, which was originally proposed by Sudan and accepted by Egypt.

According to the Minister they tried to minimize the role of African Union and South Africa. Even they, Sudan and Egypt, “tried to pull out South Africa as an observer from the negotiation”. Instead, they suggested the change of the role of USA and EU as observers to mediators.

The new proposal Sudan and Egypt came up with, “belittles the responsibility of African Union.” And they tried to enhance the role of USA and EU from observers to Mediators. As a result, we were obliged to reject the newly introduced ideas via Sudan and Egypt, as they were new to the points that had been provided to the negotiations.

Addressing Egypt’s stance that Ethiopia should not fill the dam before agreement is made, “Delaying the filling of the reservoir is a big loss.” “If the filling of the reservoir is delayed for a year, it will cost us directly one billion US dollar a year, and will cause us opportunity cost too, which is 7 to 8 billion US dollar loss a year.

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Ethiopian Minister of Foreign affairs (left) and its Egyptian counterpart (right) during the talks in Kinshasa, taken from gulf headlines

The ministry of foreign affairs of Ethiopia stressed on press release issued, the need to change negotiations centered only on the interest of the lower basin countries.And pointed out that Ethiopia is still want the African union to lead the negotiations and others may continue as observers, according to Amhara mass media agency.

It is to be recalled that Ethiopia announced that it will fill the reservoir for second round in coming July 2021, is set to store 13.5 billion cubic meters of water. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, whose planned capacity of 6,500 megawatts to generate, is a crucial mega-project to Ethiopia to supply its more than 110million people with electricity.

Although Ethiopia kept on saying the Dam will not cause any significant harm to the lower basin countries, Egypt concerns that the dam will endanger its supplies of Nile water, while Sudan is concerned about the water-flow through its own dams and water stations.

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