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Sudan Says Return to GERD Negotiations Subject to Change in Method

Sudan Says Return to GERD Negotiations Subject to Change in Method

Thursday, 29 July, 2021 - 08:45
Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasir Abbas takes part in a trilateral meeting to resume negotiations on the GERD, in Khartoum, Sudan on Dec. 21, 2019. (AFP)

Sudan is unwilling to return to the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) negotiations with the old method, led by the African Union (AU).

Sudan’s Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasir Abbas urged a change in the negotiating method, saying: “Sudan is not ready to enter into talks with Ethiopia in the same previous way because it means buying time.”

Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum, Abbas said Khartoum demands a change in the AU’s negotiations methodology, developing the role of observers into mediators, and forming an international mediation quartet made up of the AU, United Nations, European Union, and US.

He asserted Sudan’s demand, which was proposed in Kinshasa in April, and backed by Egypt.

Abbas also stressed that exchanging information about filling and operating the GERD “is an absolute necessity” and that a legally binding agreement in this regard “must be signed.”

The official affirmed that the GERD could be beneficial to Sudan provided that information is exchanged with Sudanese officials managing the Roseires Dam under a legally binding agreement.

The GERD will completely change the flow of the Blue Nile by flattening its hydrograph, and with its gigantic size, it “poses substantial threats to Sudan if it is not properly designed, constructed, filled and operated,” he continued.

Abbas reiterated his government’s commitment to serious negotiations as the only way to resolve the dispute over the dam.

“When we say the Roseires Dam, we mean that the entire water system from Khartoum to Atbara will be affected, as well as drinking water plants. It will go out of service if the water level drops to less than 90 million cubic meters.”

The official ruled out Sudan’s signing of a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia, saying the Blue Nile is an international river shared by countries.

“Sudan will benefit from the GERD in terms of generating electricity and reducing silt and floods, but only on the condition that there is a binding tripartite agreement,” said Abbas.

He reiterated that the three parties agreed on 90 percent of the contentious issues, which are primarily technical, adding that the remaining 10 percent are related to the binding legal agreement, which defines conflict resolution mechanisms in case of disagreement.

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