The National - News

Nile dam negotiatio­ns fail to break long-running deadlock


Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resolve a long-running dispute over the operation of a giant Nile dam being built by Addis Ababa are inching towards a two-week deadline without a breakthrou­gh in sight.

The negotiatio­ns, now in their 11th day, are the latest in nearly a decade of protracted talks between the three African nations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissanc­e Dam, which promises to be the largest hydroelect­ric dam in Africa, producing about 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt fears the dam would reduce its essential share of the river’s waters, while fellow downstream nation Sudan is concerned a structural breach in the dam could flood large parts of its territory and that without operationa­l co-ordination the Ethiopian dam could close its own hydroelect­ric dams.

Ethiopia has sought to reassure Egypt and Sudan, saying the dam on the Blue Nile, the Nile’s largest tributary, is essential to end poverty in the Horn of Africa nation and is meant to benefit, not harm, Egypt, Sudan and fellow regional countries.

But Egypt says that Ethiopia is refusing to reach a legally binding agreement and is rejecting proposals for a deal on the flow of the river during persistent drought or a mechanism for resolving future disputes.

A statement from the Egyptian irrigation ministry said the water and irrigation ministers of the three nations met on Sunday in a video-conference along with representa­tives of the US, the EU and South Africa, current chair of the African Union.

The meeting reviewed Egypt’s “alternativ­e formulas” on the major points of dispute. The Sudanese and Ethiopian sides also presented proposals designed to overcome legal and technical difference­s. “But the discussion­s reflected the persistenc­e of difference­s over major issues,” the ministry said.

The technical and legal committees were to meet yesterday, it said. Another meeting would follow to draft a final report to South Africa in its capacity as AU chair.

The latest round of talks between the three nations have taken on added urgency because of Ethiopia’s repeated assertions that it would go ahead and start filling the dam’s giant water reservoir regardless of whether a deal has been reached.

Egypt and Sudan have vehemently opposed such a move, with Cairo saying it would never accept a status quo imposed on it.

Egyptian officials have avoided any reference to military action, but President Abdel Fattah El Sisi recently said – without mentioning the dispute directly – that his military was prepared to act outside the country.

 ??  ?? Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissanc­e Dam spans the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan
Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissanc­e Dam spans the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan

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