Tripartite talk on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam resumes

United States, European Union, and South Africa to attend as observers as Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan resort to tripartite talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Tripartite talk _ Ethiopian

June 9, 2020

Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan are resuming tripartite talks on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The meeting is said to be a virtual one due to the coronavirus situation.

It is expected to resume on Tuesday, according to the Sudanese news source – Sudan Tribune.  Observers from the United States of America, the European Union, and South Africa will attend the meeting.

It is to be recalled that the three countries paused the talk over GERD after the failure of US-brokered talk in late February of this year.

Sudan initiated the return to tripartite talk following a series of consultations first with Ethiopia and then with Egypt. 

Egypt was first adamant about the idea of returning to tripartite talks.  When Sudan and Ethiopia reached an agreement to start talks on the filling and operation of the dam some time at the end of May, Egypt expressed interest to be part of the talk.

Sudanese Irrigation Minister, Yasir Abbas, is quoted as saying “We hope this meeting be constructive and a continuation of the cooperation established between the riparian countries since a long time ago,” he said before to add “Much has been accomplished and little remains to be done.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia has not disclosed any information about it to the public. 

Ethiopia has announced that it will start the initial stages of filling GERD which is expected to be 4.9 billion cubic meters of water when completed. The schedule for the second round is undisclosed.

Sudan and Egypt sent letters to the United Nations Security Council, and what they wanted is to stop Ethiopia from starting to fill GERD before an agreement is reached. Ethiopia responded that filling the dam is not violating international law. More than 85 percent of the Nile water originates from the highlands in the country but Ethiopia never consumed its share of the water.

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared in the parliament on Monday, he reaffirmed that Ethiopia does not have any intention to harm its neighbors while it is pursuing completion of the project with a goal to provide over 65 percent of its population with access to electricity.  

Meanwhile, the issue of GERD has been in the limelight constantly in local media. Remarks from the cross-section of society aired on state and affiliated media indicate that the project is seen as a representation of Ethiopia’s key strategy to overcome poverty.

For others, the significance of it transcends the economic realm. General Mohammed Tessema is head of the indoctrination division of the Ethiopian Defense. Speaking to Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), he described the dam as a hallmark of Ethiopia’s sovereignty. “Ethiopians have left their imprint on this project,” he added, and that the defense force is ready to defend it from any possible attack.  

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