Ethiopia: Internatiional Mediation Over Ethiopia's Nile Dam After Failure of Talks

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam or GERD.
10 October 2019

Egypt has called for "international mediation" after its talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over Ethiopia's construction of a mega dam on the controversial Nile river reached "a deadlock".

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project has sparked Egypt's worry over Ethiopia's development needs, as well as concerns over its possible adverse effects on Egypt, including water scarcity and climate change.

"Talks have reached a deadlock as a result of the Ethiopian side's inflexibility," Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said in a statement on Saturday following the two-day ministerial negotiations held in Sudan's capital Khartoum.

It said that Ethiopia presented a new proposal during the Khartoum talks, which was a "step back from all the principles previously agreed upon for the filling and operation of the dam.

"The proposal did not include the minimum annual drainage of the dam, or ways to deal with the cases of drought that might occur in the future, the statement added.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi tweeted later that Egypt would "continue to take necessary measures at the political level and in accordance with international law to protect its rights" in Nile waters.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia denied on Sunday that the trilateral negotiations on the GERD ended in a stalemate.

"Ethiopia stands ready to resolve any difference and outstanding concerns by consultation among the three countries," Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted.

He added the government of Ethiopia will reinforce its efforts to make the ongoing trilateral dialogue a success and expects a similar commitment from the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.

During the negotiations, the three countries stressed the rights of the 11 basin countries of the Nile to utilise Nile waters based on principles of equitable utilisation and avoiding significant harm.

Tariq Fahmy, professor of the international relations in Cairo University, told Xinhua that Egypt should seek "international mediation" to resolve the dispute.

He named two scenarios that could be adopted by the Egyptian side: seeking the African Union's support, and then refer the whole issue to the United Nations.

He said that finding a fourth country for mediation between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be a second option, noting that international arbitration could not work without the approval of Ethiopia. The military action could be the last option on the table, Fahmy added. -Xinhua

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