KHARTOUM, 14 February 2021 – Sudan has called for a broadening of mediation in negotiations over the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Khartoum says it would like to see the United States, European Union and the United Nations join the African Union – currently leading the mediation – not only as observers but as mediators.
The appeal was made by Sudan’s irrigation and water resources minister, Yasser Abbas, in an interview with Reuters.
Ethiopia has rejected engaging with international mediators, preferring to deal directly, either bilaterally or in tripartite talks, with the two downstream countries of the Blue Nile – Egypt and Sudan.
The last round of the tripartite talks which held last January 10 rose without making any progress, according to Egypt and Sudan.
“The Sudanese suggestion regarding a new international mediation aims to overcome the hurdles that have been dragging on for months in the AU-brokered negotiations,” Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Countries Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor.
“Ethiopia, however, opposes all these proposals, which maintains the current stumbling block and prevents any progress,” Raslan added.
Last February 2, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian foreign ministry, Dina Mufti, said Addis Ababa is committed to resume the AU-brokered tripartite negotiations.
Ethiopia points to Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD signed by the three countries which provides for negotiations to be “based on the goodwill principle”.
The article adds, “…if the partiesinvolved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers”.
Sudan has been warning of the risks of a unilateral decision by Ethiopia to initiate the second phase of filling the mega dam reservoir with or without a deal in July 2021.
Egypt has said Ethiopia should only proceed if a binding deal has been reached by all parties.
An attempt at mediation by the United States failed last year after Ethiopia accused Washington of favoring Egypt.
South Africa played an important role in the negotiations while it held the rotating presidency of the African Union which the current chair of the continental body – the Democratic Republic of Congo – is not expected to assume.
Egypt has threatened to take the matter before the UN Security Council at any time the African Union announces that its brokerage of the negotiations has failed.
Egypt will continue to hold on to the principle of negotiations and its right to the Nile waters, which is a life or death matter that cannot be overlooked, the country’s foreign ministry has reaffirmed.