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Sudan refuses to internationalise Renaissance Dam crisis

December 8, 2020 at 9:40 am

A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, on 26 December 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP/Getty Images]

Sudanese Foreign Minister-designate Omar Gamar Aldin confirmed that his country does not intend to “internationalise” the issue of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam at the present time, stressing that “the use of force in negotiations is unacceptable and we do not support it”.

“Time is not on our side, given that the second phase of the dam’s filling will begin next fall,” Gamar Aldin stated in statements to local television, while indicating that the United States was a mediator in the negotiations, and the Egyptian side was keen to have this mediation ongoing.

He continued: “Ethiopia promoted the factor of colonial agreements in its favour during the Renaissance Dam negotiations,” noting that “these accords are still binding and states will continue to abide by them.”

The Sudanese minister emphasised that the Egyptian authorities were able to make the water security file a “national security issue”.

The Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasser Abbas, said on Wednesday that the divergent positions of Ethiopia and Egypt regarding the Renaissance Dam prompted his country to insist on granting a greater role to the African Union (AU) in the negotiations.

READ: Egypt: Countries must reach binding deal on Nile dam

“The last round of talks on the Renaissance Dam issue showed a divergence between Egyptian and Ethiopian positions, therefore, Sudan insisted on continuing the negotiations under the auspices of the African Union, but in a different way that gives experts a greater role,” the minister said.

He added: “The Renaissance Dam is a major issue that concerns the people and government of Sudan, and its impact extends beyond the country’s economic and social future to geopolitical effects in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin.”

The Sudanese minister pointed out that his country’s position on the Renaissance Dam crisis is based on Ethiopia’s right for development, building reservoirs, equitable use of rivers, and not causing any harm to others, as well as the need to sign a final and binding agreement.

He asserted that “the benefits of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to Sudan are greater than its damages,” adding that “these benefits will turn into great risks if a final and binding agreement … is not reached.”

READ: Sudan will benefit from Ethiopian dam, says legal expert

 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.

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]