Ethiopia: Dispute Over Nile Project Moves to African Union

An aerial photo of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (file photo).

The dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the commencement of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now moved to the African Union for resolution.

However, experts doubt an agreement can be reached after Ethiopia strongly opposed arbitration by the United Nations Security Council during a video conference on June 29.

Egypt took the matter to the UN Security Council, but Ethiopia with the support of South Africa -- the current African Union chair -- lobbied for the issue to be first handled by the continental body.

Taye Atske-Selassie, Ethiopia's Permanent Representative to the UN, said that the issue being taken to the UN was bound to set a bad precedent.

"The involvement of the Security Council on this issue risks hardening positions and making compromise even more difficult. Instead of pronouncing itself on this matter, the Council should defer to the African Union and encourage the three countries to return to the tripartite negotiations as the only means to finding an amicable solution to the remaining outstanding issues," said Mr Atske-Selassie.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace Building Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Council that the UN was ready to assist through technical and expert support, including any help required by the AU-led process.

"We hope that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will persevere with efforts to achieve an agreement on the GERD that is beneficial to all," said Ms DiCarlo.

FILLING OF DAM CONTINUES

Ethiopia's plan of filling the dam remains on course despite a decision taken on June 27 by the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU to delay it.

The Bureau held an Extraordinary meeting under the chairmanship of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and later announced that Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia had agreed to resume negotiations and resolve the remaining issues through tripartite consultations.

Soon after, Egypt and Sudan announced that Ethiopia had agreed to suspend the filling of the dam to allow negotiations to continue, which Ethiopia refuted through Mr Atske-Selassie.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry argued that the GERD is a threat that could affect the livelihood and wellbeing of over 100 million Egyptians.

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