UPDATE - Ethiopia Accuses Sudan, Egypt Of Trying To Undermine GERD Dam Negotiations

UPDATE - Ethiopia Accuses Sudan, Egypt of Trying to Undermine GERD Dam Negotiations

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 07th April, 2021) The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said that Sudan and Egypt tried to undermine the trilateral negotiation process on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

After a months-long break, the fresh round of the talks resumed on Sunday in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which presides over the African Union (AU) mediating the process. Last year, the negotiations were conducted under the auspices of South Africa, which headed the AU.

"The two countries followed an approach that seeks to undermine the AU-led process and take the matter out of the African platform. They also stalled the resumption of the negotiation by rejecting a draft communique that contained the deliberations during the two days meeting. Rather both countries attempted to obstruct the process," the ministry said in a press release released late on Tuesday.

Ethiopia is ready to provide information on the second stage of filling the dam, which will take place within the previously planned time frame, the press release read, adding that the joint stance of Sudan and Egypt, which challenges Ethiopia's right to fill the dam before the agreement is concluded, "has no basis in law" as it undermines Addis Ababa's "inherent right to utilize its natural resource."

According to the ministry, Ethiopia expects the next round of talks to be held "around the third week of April 2021."

In turn, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the recent round of the talks resulted in no progress, and no agreement was reached on restarting negotiations. According to the ministry's spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, Addis Ababa rejected Sudan's initiative backed by Egypt to form an international quartet under Congo's leadership.

"During the meeting, Ethiopia also rejected all Egyptian-forwarded proposals and alternatives supported by Sudan in a bid to advance the negotiating process enabling countries and involved observing parties to actively engage in discussions ... and propose solutions to controversial technical and legal issues," the ministry said.

Ethiopia also declined Cairo's proposal to resume talks chaired by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi with the participation of observers in line with the existing negotiating mechanism, the ministry added.

Egypt argued that such a position once again reveals Addis Abbas' lack of political will to negotiate in good faith and its endeavor to drag out the process through an ineffective negotiating tool.

During the talks, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry affirmed Egypt's appreciation of efforts made by Tshisekedi regarding the matter and expressed the country's readiness to assist and support him in the efforts to resolve the GERD issue.

Earlier this week, a Sudanese source close to the process told Sputnik that the parties have so far failed to overcome an impasse in the latest round of negotiations.

Ethiopia initiated the controversial dam project, set to become Africa's largest dam, in 2012, but its construction has been challenged by Egypt and Sudan fearing the project might jeopardize their water security.

The African states have held numerous rounds of negotiations mediated by the AU, but have so far failed to reach an agreement on how soon the dam should be filled and begin generating power.

Tensions escalated in summer 2020 after Ethiopia began the first stage of filling the reservoir without prior agreements.