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New African Initiative Expected to Resolve GERD Dispute

New African Initiative Expected to Resolve GERD Dispute

Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 09:30
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed receives President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi, who is mediating the GERD dispute. (Ethiopian government)

Congolese President and African Union chair Felix Tshisekedi concluded an African tour aimed at resolving Ethiopia’s dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

He is expected to present his proposal to end the deadlock over the filling and operation of Addis Ababa’s giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile and reach an agreement that serves the interests of the three countries.

Cairo and Khartoum stress the importance of reaching a legally binding agreement on GERD’s filling and operation before Addis Ababa moves forward with the second filling in July.

Addis Ababa informed Tshisekedi of its refusal to expand the mediation and its commitment to African solutions to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

According to a statement by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office, he insisted on Ethiopia’s position that the dam is a “symbol of cooperation and mutual development” and not aimed at harming the two downstream countries.

Ahmed pointed to Addis Ababa’s willingness to reach an agreement that serves all relevant parties in line with the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015.

He stressed his country’s commitment to the AU-sponsored talks and solutions under Tshisekedi’s leadership.

Cairo and Khartoum demand forming an international quartet led by the Democratic Republic of Congo, and including the AU, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, to reach a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations.

According to informed sources, Tshisekedi presented an initiative to bring together the three disputed parties to the table of discussions again and reach an agreement before the second filling.

The last round of failed talks between the three countries was held in April in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi voiced concern about the ongoing crisis with Ethiopia.

He said the negotiations are “worrisome” and need “patience,” urging his people to trust the political leadership. He also reassured them that Cairo will not undermine its water rights.

Cairo considers the dam an “existential issue” and has repeatedly stressed that it will not allow its water interests to be harmed.

Addis Ababa finished in July 2020 the first phase of filling the reservoir, in preparation for its operation, achieving its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters. This year, it targets filling an additional 13.5 billion cubic meters.

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