Horn Of Africa Ethiopia renews commitment to AU mediation in dam talks

Ethiopia renews commitment to AU mediation in dam talks

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Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday renewed its adherence to the mediation of the African Union to resolve the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) conflict with Egypt and Sudan.

“The tendency to invite various parties as mediators to the issue while the AU-led negotiation has not been finalised is demeaning [to] the efforts of the AU,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Dina Mufti, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Her comments came in response to recent calls by Sudan and Egypt for international mediation after the failure of AU talks.

She stressed that her country was adhering to the so-called Declaration of Principles agreement.

In March 2015, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, then Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed in joint pact in Khartoum which approves the completion of the GERD while respecting the water needs of the three signatories. It states that the three countries must agree on guidelines

and rules for the dam’s process of operations before the reservoir is filled.

“Our position has always been to continue negotiations with the AU mediation,” Mufti noted, stressing that the latter would lead to a “win-win solution to all parties.”

Under South Africa’s presidency, the AU has been trying to help the three countries reach an agreement over the years-long dispute. In January, Sudan abandoned the talks, in protest at the meeting’s agenda. Talks have stalled ever since.

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.

There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam. Last July, Bekele announced that the reservoir was being filled in spite of there being no agreed on mechanism for this.

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