On Tuesday the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources announced that Sudan had rejected an Ethiopian proposal to sign a partial agreement on filling the Renaissance Dam Lake, which is expected to start next July.
In a written statement distributed to the media, the ministry announced that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok communicated to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Sudan’s position on the proposal, in correspondence that was intended as a response to a letter previously sent by the Ethiopian prime minister.
The statement added: “We consider that signing any partial agreement for the first stage cannot be approved due to the technical and legal aspects, which must be included in the in the accord first, and which are determined by the coordination mechanism, data exchange, the safety of the dam, and environmental and social impacts.”
The statement quoted Hamad Saleh, Sudan’s chief negotiator, stating: “Most of the issues are still under negotiation, the most important of which are the coordination mechanism, data exchange, the safety of the dam and environmental and social impacts that are closely related not only to the first filling of the lake, but to all the rest of the stages and long-term operations, and therefore the agreement cannot be fragmented.”
In his letter, Hamdok emphasised his position on reaching a tripartite agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, stressing that: “The way to reach a comprehensive agreement is the immediate resumption of negotiations.”
In 2011, Ethiopia started building a six billion US dollar-dam on the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile.
The Renaissance Dam raised the concerns of Sudan and Egypt, in terms of affecting their supply of the Nile water. Since that date, the three countries have entered into negotiations to agree on limiting the impact of the Ethiopian dam on both Sudan and Egypt.
Last February, Ethiopia refused to sign a proposal for an agreement submitted by the US, which was involved in the negotiations last November as a mediator alongside the World Bank Group (WBG), to solve the differences between the three countries.
Saleh pointed to a Sudanese attempt to resume negotiations with reference to “the Washington track”, explaining: “We are expecting to see the results of those contacts by resuming negotiations soon.”