Sudan refuses to continue GERD negotiations, calls for greater observer role

Sudan on Tuesday requested that experts and observers play a greater role in the next round of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations in order to utilize a new approach and hopefully reach an agreement.

During a virtual meeting for the foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement affirming its adherence to the negotiation process as the only means to reach a satisfactory agreement.

According to the Sudanese News Agency, the statement also expressed Sudan’s reservation to continue negotiations with the same previous approach that led to a dead-end in the previous rounds, and its proposal to give a greater role to experts and observers in the negotiation process.

There are specific technical and legal aspects still in dispute, Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas said, such as to what extent the settled agreement would be mandatory, what mechanism will be used to settle disputes over the agreement, and the link between the agreement reached with other agreements on Nile water issues.

Abbas stressed that “reaching a satisfactory and binding tripartite agreement requires political will from the leaders of the countries concerned.”

Negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, which were held under the auspices of the African Union, have been suspended since last August.

The negotiations failed to reach an agreement between the three countries, and ended after Ethiopia announced the end of the first filling phase of the dam.

Negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam resumed on Tuesday, two months after Egypt’s withdrawal from the talks, announced the President of the African Union Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.

Egypt, which gets more than 90 percent of its supplies from scarce freshwater from the Nile and fears the Renaissance Dam will destroy its economy, pulled out of negotiations in August after Ethiopia proposed a new timetable for filling the dam.

The US cut US$100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September due to its position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

In May, Ethiopian MPs said that “no force on the face of the earth” will stop the completion of the dam and that they were ready to defend it from both internal and external attacks.

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