Sudan Rejects Ethiopia’s Proposal on the GERD, Objects to the Filling

In early March 2020, Sudan did not sign Arab League resolution saying that it would lead to confrontation with Ethiopia.Now it swings back.

Sudan _ GERD _ Ethiopia

By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 13, 2020

Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources has announced today, in a press release, that Sudan has rejected Ethiopia’s proposal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) due to “legal and technical issues that need to be resolved.” 

The Ministry has also revealed that Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok received a message from Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, regarding this new proposal by Ethiopia. But, according to the press release, Hamdok has answered the message saying that Sudan will not agree to the filling before an agreement has been reached, not just between Ethiopia and Itself but, with Egypt too. 

Sudan’s chief negotiator, Hamed Saleh, has reportedly said, “Most of the issues at play cannot be separated including … long term environmental and social impacts.”

Ethiopia had, just two days ago, decided to carry on with its original plan to start filling the dam in July. It had also announced that it had come up with a document that details the execution of the filling work and that both Egypt and Sudan had refused to review it, although they had previously expressed agreement to the timing of the filling.   

This announcement from Sudan came following this decision by Ethiopia. Sudan’s alliance in the GERD negotiations is of immense importance for both Ethiopia and Egypt. And both are doing their utmost to have Sudan on their side. 

For Sudan, the dam means the fear it evokes in Egypt as well as the hope it raises in Ethiopia. This is because, being a downstream country, it will be affected by the disruption of the river. At the same time, being a neighbor country to Ethiopia and the dam being built very close to its borders, the dam might provide it with electricity while also helping it regulate flooding. 

Accordingly, the positions Sudan held in the recently held negotiations were varied. It stood alongside Egypt and signed the agreement mediated by the US treasury department, which was negotiated in absence of Ethiopia and which it refused to sign. But it also stood against Egypt in the Arab League when Egypt asked the League to intervene in the matter. 

Some sources have reported that recently Egypt and Saudi Arabia are putting pressure on Sudan regarding the issue. And commentators say that Sudan, with a new government in power and complicated political and economic issues which it needs to resolve, cannot afford to stand against Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

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