Sudan, Ethiopia discuss filling controversial dam

Sudanese high level government delegation is holding discussion in closed door with Ethiopian counterpart in Addis Ababa on the filling…

Sudanese high level government delegation is holding discussion in closed door with Ethiopian counterpart in Addis Ababa on the filling and operation of the controversial dam being built about 20 kilometers east Sudan’s border.The discussion comes after Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources rejected Ethiopia’s proposal on the filling Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Ministry has also revealed that Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok received a message from Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, regarding this new proposal by Ethiopia. But, according to the press release, Hamdok had answered the message saying that Sudan will not agree to the filling before an agreement is reached between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. 

Sudan’s chief negotiator, Hamed Saleh, has reportedly said, “Most of the issues at play cannot be separated including … long term environmental and social impacts.”

Last week, Ethiopia reaffirmed that it would commence filling of the GERD’s reservoir next July during a ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

 The water filling strategy for the dam has long been the most controversial issue and yet unresolved in the Nile talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

Recently, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sammy Shoukry submitted a 15-page complaint letter to the United Nations Security Council via Mohammed Endris, the Egyptian ambassador to the UN.

Cairo once again warned that Ethiopia’s move to fill the dam ahead of tripartite agreement will potentially pose a serious threat to regional peace and security. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutrees, during a phone conversation with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said the UN will extend the necessary support to help the countries resolve disagreement.

According to Ethiopia’s new water filling proposal, the dam will hold 4.9 billion cubic meters of water over the first two years and another 13.5 billion cubic meters during the third year to reach 595 meters above sea level.

The nine page proposal states that Ethiopia will cut the filling of the reservoir if the volume of water that enters into the reservoir is measured below 31 billion cubic meters due to low rainfall or drought. 

Briefing the high level officials, Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy Dr, Sileshi Bekele said preparation has been finalized to commence filling of the dam next July.

He said the filling of the dam will be managed without causing harm to the downstream countries; and Ethiopia respects the fair and rational water management guideline.

According to Sileshi, Ethiopia has prepared a comprehensive document that provides sufficient response for the complaint Egypt has submitted to the UN Security Council about the filling of GERD.

The Sudanese delegation led by Ambassador Omer Bahir Manees, Minister of Cabinet Affairs is expected to dwell on the filling and operation of the dam, economic ties and border issue, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Office said on Saturday in a statement.

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