Ethiopia to Start Filling GERD in July: PM

Joanna Estrada
July 9, 2020

In June, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed that Ethiopia will not start filling its new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in July and will instead return to tripartite talks aimed at reaching a final binding agreement.

Ethiopia has refused to include the flow of annual operations in the deal, the Egyptian ministry said, as Addis Ababa wants to be in sole control of the operation of the dam, and to be able to change the rules of operations unilaterally.

"Ethiopia will not harm Egypt and will start filling the dam to tap into the [current] heavy rain season".

Up to 11 observers representing the European Union, the USA, the AU Commission, South Africa and the AU's legal and technical experts are attending the online talks.

Egypt, which relies considerably on fresh water from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country's water supply, especially in light of overpopulation fears, and has insisted that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam's filling process.

In response, Egypt appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene to resolve the stalemate to preserve worldwide peace and stability.

The Security Council urged the three countries to avoid adopting any unilateral actions and conduct talks on the basis of mutual understanding.

Mohamed Al-Sebaei, spokesman of Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, said there was no verified information that filling the reservoir was planned to start without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan.

It was agreed to continue talks through bilateral meetings between the observers and each of the three countries separately, to benefit from the observer's expertise and to receive proposals if necessary regarding contentious points.

However, in its own statement, Ethiopia said that construction of the GERD will continue and that it will commence the filling of the dam.

"To Ethiopians at home & overseas: I urge you to use whatever means at your disposal to let people understand your country's stand to equitably & reasonably utilize the River Nile water resources in cooperation with other riparian states", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on Saturday. On Friday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a vague claim that the deadly shooting of Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa last week was linked to the tension. "Those external and internal forces who were not successful with the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue have tried their utmost efforts to create chaos at this time", Ahmed said, which could refer to Egypt, according to Agence France Presse.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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