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Ethiopia calls for AU Bureau of Assembly meeting to end GERD talks impasse

Ethiopia’s President Abiy Ahmed, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are pictured left to right (AFP)

Ethiopia has called for a meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union to end impasse over GERD talks

In a letter by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia says the way forward on the GERD negotiations is to request AU chairman President Felix Tshisekedi to call the meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union. The letter is a reply to Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s letter of April 13.

Abiy told Hamdok that assuming the negotiation process as a failure is not right because they have seen some tangible results, including the signing of the Declaration of Principles and the establishment of the National Independent Scientific Research Group.

The letter also cites the Kinshasa meeting, the understanding reached on the resumption of the stalled AU led trilateral negotiation, the agreement reached on the continued and enhanced role of the observers, namely EU, South Africa, and the US, and the need for the current AU Chairperson to use resources at his disposal for the effective discharge of his facilitation role.

The Kinshasa meeting on April 4-5 between Egypt and Ethiopia, however, failed to achieve any progress or reach an agreement on re-launching the negotiations.

“If parties negotiate in good faith results are within our reach,” says the letter, and “Ethiopia still believes that the best way forward is to continue the trilateral negotiation under the AU-led process to reach a win-win outcome.”

Ethiopia also called on UNSC members to urge Egypt and Sudan to return to the tripartite negotiations on the first filling and annual operation of GERD project and respect the AU-led process.

Egypt President Fatah Al-Sisi this week sent his Foreign Affairs minister Sameh Shoukry on an African tour “to update several countries on the developments of the Grand Renaissance Dam issue”.

He visited Kenya, Comoros, South Africa, Congo, Senegal and Tunisia.

Abiy on Sunday announced that the second filling of the dam would proceed as planned for July/August.

“Ethiopia, in developing Abbay (Blue Nile) River for its needs, has no intention of causing harm to lower riparian countries. Heavy rains last year enabled successful first filling of the GERD while the presence of the GERD itself has undoubtedly prevented severe flooding in neighbouring Sudan,” Abiy tweeted.

“Ahead of the second filling, Ethiopia is releasing more water from last year’s storage through newly completed outlets & sharing information. The next filling takes place only during heavy rainfall months of July/August, ensuring benefits in reducing floods in Sudan.”

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