Egypt Independent

Ice in Khartoum



On April 4 and 5, Sudan held a meeting in Khartoum, attended by foreign ministers and intelligence chiefs of the three countries concerned with the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

On the second day, the meeting went on for many hours, with newspaper reports estimating it reached 16 hours of continuous negotiation. At the end of the day, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour declared that they had not reached any agreement despite long hours of discussion.

Ghandour, with signs of fatigue on his face, did not reveal anything specific about the subject of the dispute or its causes, but it was clear from news reports and leaks that Ethiopia was not flexible, and he was not keen to break ground in this round of negotiations, a round awaited with high expectations!

It was necessary to have a new round. Cairo has already called for it on our land on Friday, perhaps it could succeed in breaking the ice which was difficult to break for those present in the Khartoum round.

Between the two rounds, the spokesman for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry revealed a few days ago the reasons which led to the failure of the negotiations in the Sudanese capital. Strangely, he placed the responsibility for the lack of success on Egypt, saying Egypt raised during the meetings the 1959 agreement signed between Egypt and Sudan.

The 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan that Egypt’s share of River Nile water is 55.5 billion cubic meters annually, and Sudan’s share is 18.5 billion each year.

From the words of the Ethiopian spokesman, we understand that this agreement is the stumbling block to the Khartoum negotiations during the meeting. Ethiopia, for an inexplicable reason, wants to disavow it: it sees the agreement as binding between Egypt and Sudan only, and sees that it is exempt from it.

What is more strange is that the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman saw in our adherence to the agreement a lack of cooperation on our part in the negotiation, and well as non-seriousness. And this is a strange tone of speech, to which the Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded immediately by saying that accusations of non-cooperation or lack of seriousness are untrue, and the evidence is so and so.

I wish that Egypt’s Foreign Ministry had responded in another way, by saying to Ethiopia that its non-existence as a party to the 1959 agreement is true, but what is more rightful is that it is a direct party to the Nile, without which there would have been no such agreement.

The agreement, which the Ethiopian government does not want to recognize, speaks about water coming into the two countries, Egypt and Sudan, from the River Nile, not from the Congo River. So Ethiopia is an authentic party in the whole issue. It can’t disavow its obligations to the two downstream countries. This is the logic that I hope we will adopt in meetings on Friday.

Denying the 1959 agreement will not help. The ice of the Khartoum round must melt on the Cairo round tour.