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GERD Talks Await Last-Minute Agreement

GERD Talks Await Last-Minute Agreement

Monday, 13 July, 2020 - 08:30
Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (File photo: Reuters)
Cairo - Mohammed Abdo Hassanein

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have not yet reached an agreement on the technical and legal issues of rules for filling and operating Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) even though the deadline granted by the African Union (AU) to the three countries is nearing.

Tripartite negotiations continued for the 10th day in the presence of the Ministers of Water Resources of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, under the auspices of the AU.

Egypt previously rejected an Ethiopian proposal to postpone contentious issues until signing the agreement, where they would be referred to a technical committee. In return, Cairo presented alternatives hoping to reach a breakthrough in any of the outstanding legal or technical issues.

Despite its late interference in the nearly 10-year issue, the AU held a virtual summit last June with the participation of Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Sudanese leaders, as well as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current president of the Union.

The talks led to the formation of a committee to resolve legal and technical issues and reach an agreement within two weeks. The technical and legal talks are scheduled to be concluded on Monday, with each country submitting its final report on the results of the negotiations to South Africa.

Cairo says the dispute with Addis Ababa is not only related to the issue of Egypt's water share, but also to other matters that include the safety of the dam and its damages.

Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced that Cairo offered alternatives during the technical committee meeting, which witnessed talks between each country with the observers and experts.

The observers made some inquiries that were addressed and explained by the technical and legal committees.

The spokesman for Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohammed al-Sibai, announced that Ethiopia said it would study the Egyptian proposals and respond to them during the final GERD meeting.

Sibai added that, in accordance with the 2015 agreement, Ethiopia has no right to start filling the Dam which can’t be done unless all three countries agree.

The negotiations are taking place in the presence of observers from the United States, the European Union, South Africa, and legal experts from the African Union Office and the African Union Commission.

Cairo fears the potential negative impact of GERD on the flow of its annual share of the Nile's 55.5 billion cubic meters of water, while Addis Ababa says the dam is not aimed at harming Egypt or Sudan’s interests, stressing that the main objective is to generate electricity to support the development process.

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