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World Nile countries trade blame as dam talks end without breakthrough

00:51  07 april  2021
00:51  07 april  2021 Source:   afp.com

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan launch new Nile dam talks in DRC

  Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan launch new Nile dam talks in DRC The African Union is mediating the three-day talks in Kinshasa as dispute between the three countries drags on.The three-day talks that kicked off on Saturday are taking place in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current chair of the AU.

The gravity dam on the Nile has been under construction since 2011. Negotiations over the GERD appear to have broken down once more. "Ethiopia and Egypt accepted the terms contained in the draft final communique. But Sudan felt that its interests in the River Nile were at threat," the DRC source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. Delegations from the three countries were hoping to find a breakthrough in negotiations over a project Ethiopia says is key to its economic development.

African Union-brokered talks ended without an agreement on a disputed dam project on the Nile River’s main tributary, potentially ratcheting up tensions between two key U.S. allies on the continent. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry said in a statement that the talks had concluded with continuing differences on the main issues regarding the filling and operation of the dam . The Horn of Africa nation has asserted what it says is its right to fill the reservoir, which is associated with a 6,000 megawatt power plant, at its own pace.

Ethiopia on Tuesday accused Egypt and Sudan of obstructing talks on its contested dam on the Nile, which ended with recriminations and little progress.

a large building with a mountain in the background: The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile has been simmering for a decade © - The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile has been simmering for a decade

The Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi, as the current chair of the African Union, hosted the talks in the latest bid to ease decade-long tensions over the waters of the world's longest river.

Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric project, is seen by both downstream countries as a threat to their own water supply.

Egypt’s el-Sisi warns ‘all options open’ after dam talks fail

  Egypt’s el-Sisi warns ‘all options open’ after dam talks fail Latest round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia concluded with no resolution to long-running disputes over GERD.Delegations from the three countries met in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the about, the current chair of the African Union (AU), in an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations. The talks concluded on Tuesday with no resolution to long-running disputes about the operation and filling of the dam’s reservoir.

Talks in Washington between Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan fail to resolve differences over Ethiopian dam project that Egypt fears will reduce water flow downstream. Friday 14/02/2020. ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian officials said Friday that negotiations this week in Washington failed to resolve a long-running dispute with Egypt over a massive dam on the Nile . The two-day meeting was the latest round of talks facilitated by the US Treasury Department, which stepped in after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reached out to US President Donald Trump, a close ally.

The three countries are seeking to resolve a row over the huge dam on the Blue Nile . The controversial structure has been almost a decade in the making but there is optimism a deal could be reached by the end of January. It had urged continental body the African Union to play a greater role in reaching a consensus over the disputed dam on the Blue Nile . The three Nile Valley countries held a fresh round of talks by video conference in the virtual presence of South African officials, as well as other international observers.

Ethiopia's foreign ministry, in a statement posted on Twitter, said the meeting failed "due to Egypt and Sudan's rigid stance to make the negotiation and the outcome a tool to affirm their self-claimed water share and foreclose Ethiopia's share."

Map of East Africa showing the Nile and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam © Janis LATVELS Map of East Africa showing the Nile and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ethiopia said talks centred on the role of observers to the mediation -- South Africa, the United States and the European Union. Egypt and Sudan want them to have the same role as the AU, which Ethiopia said it does not accept.

"The two countries followed an approach which seeks to undermine the AU-led process," said the statement, adding that Egypt and Sudan had sought to stall and "obstruct the process" by rejecting the draft communique.

Appeal for 'fresh start' as Nile dam talks kick off in DR Congo

  Appeal for 'fresh start' as Nile dam talks kick off in DR Congo Foreign ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan kicked off negotiations in Kinshasa on Sunday over Addis Ababa's contested giant dam on the Nile, officials said. Egypt and Sudan this month called on Kinshasa to steer efforts to relaunch negotiations on the contested dam. For Tshisekedi, "The human dimension must be at the heart of these tripartite negotiations."The people of all three countries have a right to water, food and health, he stressed.The US ambassador to the DR Congo, Mike Hammer, attended the start of the talks, which were set to wrap up on Monday.

Without electricity, many Ethiopians rely on shrinking forests for firewood, while the 40% of the country which is technically connected to the grid suffers from disruptive power cuts, Birhanu Lenjiso, co-founder of the East African Policy Research Institute, told CNN. "Because the dam has reached quite an advanced stage of construction there had already been a natural backing up of the river behind it, due to the rainy season," William Davison, the International Crisis Group's senior Ethiopia analyst told CNN from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

Talks on how much water will pass through the Nile dam are deadlocked. The spat threatens the region's security. Egypt wants the UN Security Council to intervene in its longstanding dispute with Ethiopia about a Nile dam . Cairo fears that Ethiopia's move to fill the dam 's reservoir will reduce Egypt's Shortly after the end of the latest round of negotiations in the ongoing conflict over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the main counterparts — Egypt and Ethiopia — started blaming each other. The deadlock is a security risk for the region, David Wolde Giorgis from the International

The final text, read by DRC foreign minister Marie Tumba Nzeza, simply noted that the meeting had taken place, listed its participants and thanked Tshisekedi for his work.

Ethiopia said it would continue with the second stage of filling the dam's reservoir as scheduled during the upcoming rainy season. The country announced last July it had met its first year filling target, infuriating Egypt and Sudan.

Sudan's foreign minister, Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, told reporters Tuesday that Ethiopia "threatens the people of the Nile basin, and Sudan directly".

"We hope that President Tshisekedi's judgement will be able to end... these interminable and insufficient negotiations in which the Ethiopian side places everyone before a fait accompli, in a way that clearly violates international law and the principles of good neighbourliness," she said.

- 'The first step' -

Ethiopia says power produced by the GERD will be vital to meet the development needs of its 110 million people.

Ethiopia determined to continue filling its large dam on the Nile

 Ethiopia determined to continue filling its large dam on the Nile © Eduardo Sideras view of the Blue Nile passing and the great Renaissance dam (GERD) built by Ethiopia, near Guba, December 26 2019 Ethiopia has declared itself on Wednesday determined to continue to fulfill the mega-barrage it builds on the Nile, despite the persistent litigation with Egypt and Sudan, downstream of the river.

The setback sunk modest hopes that the three countries could resolve their differences and ink an agreement before Ethiopia begins to fill its .6 billion hydroelectric dam . Ethiopia had previously pledged to start filling the reservoir, even without a deal over its operation, at the start of the wet season in July, when rains flood the Blue Nile . To Ethiopia, the colossal dam offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of citizens out of poverty and become a major power exporter.

Ethiopia rejected a U.S.-brokered agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Dam (GERD) and said it would commence first filling of the structure, one day after the Trump administration concluded two days of what is supposed to be the final round of talks . Addis Ababa and Cairo have been at odds in a water war on the issue of the filling and operation of the giant Ethiopian dam that Egypt worries could threaten its supply of water from the Nile . Instead of meeting with the three countries involved in the conflict, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, host of the negotiations, participated in bilateral meetings

But the two countries downstream fear their lifeline could be threatened.

"We are talking about taking into account all 250 million souls who live in the three countries and their interests," said al-Mahdi.

The head of a team of DRC experts, David Tshishiku, insisted that the Kinshasa talks were simply the beginning of Tshisekedi's efforts to mediate the tricky dispute.

The negotiations were "the first step, on which President Tshisekedi will set out alternatives and working approaches," he told reporters.

Al-Mahdi warned that "without a new programme (for discussions), Ethiopia has an open road to place the people of the region and the entire African continent in danger".

- 'Unimaginable instability'-

The US ambassador in Kinshasa, Mike Hammer, met during the night on Monday for three hours with the delegation chiefs of the three countries in a bid to push matters forward.

Egypt has said the Kinshasa talks are the last chance to reach an agreement, after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said last week that the region faces "unimaginable stability" over the project.

"Nobody will be permitted to take a single drop of Egypt's water," he said.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan, also downstream, fears its own dams will be compromised if Ethiopia proceeds with filling the GERD before a deal is reached.

Ethiopia said in its statement that it expected the meeting to resume around the third week of April.

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Al-Burhan says Sudan, Qatar to reactivate agreements .
Talks in Doha between head of Sudan’s ruling council and Qatari officials centred on reviewing ties, among others.Al-Burhan arrived in the Qatari capital on Wednesday to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including trade and regional issues. It was his first trip to the Gulf state since former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed by the military in April 2019. Some arrangements between the two countries had been suspended after the fall al-Bashir’s government.

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