Sudan reiterates need to change Nile dam negotiating approach

A handout satellite image shows a closeup view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia

“The previous rounds, under the patronage of the African Union chaired by South Africa, were ineffective and wasted 200 days in the negotiations, which resulted in a retreat from what had been achieved and agreed upon in the earlier rounds,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi was quoted as saying on Monday.

“Sudan still calls for a new approach to avoid the negative aspects of the past and calls on the African Union to lead the meditations to overcome the stalemate in the talks,” she added.

The future talks should take place in a formula of 1+3, which means the mediation led by the African Union and backed by the UN, the European Union and the US, to reach a fair and binding agreement for the filling and operation of the GERD, Al-Mahdi noted.

She renewed Sudan’s rejection to any unilateral filling of the GERD as “dispute over resources is undesirable for Africa”, calling for “innovative solutions to spare the peoples from useless conflicts”.

Earlier, Sudan had proposed a mediation quartet of the UN, the European Union, the US and the African Union regarding the GERD issue.

Ethiopia, however, has announced its rejection to this formula.

In February, Ethiopia said it would carry on with the second-phase 13.5-billion-cubic-metre filling of the GERD in June.

The volume of the first-phase filling last year was 4.9 billion cubic metres.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been in talks for years over the technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

Ethiopia, which started building the GERD in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam project.

But Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater, are concerned that the dam might affect their share of the water resources.

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