Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas says Ethiopia has turned down the invitation to the three-way summit to discuss the stalled GERD negotiations.
A Sudanese minister warned that his country could take legal action against Ethiopia if Ethiopia goes ahead with plans to fill a mega dam on the Blue Nile without first reaching an agreement with Khartoum and Cairo.
In a series of Twitter posts on Friday, Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas also said that Ethiopia had “opposed” an invitation for a three-way summit to discuss stalled negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance. Dam (GERD).
Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been locked in inconclusive talks for nearly a decade over the filling and operation of the huge dam, which opened in 2011.
The Ethiopian government says GERD is crucial for economic development and energy production, but Egypt fears it will endanger its water supply. Sudan is also concerned about the effect on its water flows.
Ethiopia said it planned to complete the dam’s second filling phase during the upcoming rainy season, a move rejected by Sudan and Egypt before a binding legal agreement was reached.
If Ethiopia goes ahead with the obstruction, Sudan “would file legal action against the Italian company that builds the dam and the Ethiopian government,” warned Abbas.
Failure to reach an agreement paves the way for the presentation of a complaint to the Security Council, considering that the GERD represents a real threat to regional peace and security
– Teacher. Yasir Abbas (@MinY_Abbas) April 23, 2021
He said the lawsuits would highlight that “the environmental and social impact as well as the dangers of the dam” have not been adequately taken into account.
“Since the environmental and social impacts and risks associated with GERD have not been studied, various options are being explored, including the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Commissions and the COMESA Court.”
There was no immediate reaction from the Ethiopian government.
Talks in Kinshasa overseen by the African Union (AU) failed earlier this month, after which Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok invited the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt to Khartoum. He had given them until Friday to participate.
Meanwhile, Abbas said that while previous negotiations between the three countries had reached an agreement on 90% of the outstanding issues, that progress was now in doubt.
“The AU has not played its leadership role,” Abbas wrote on Twitter. “They were just observers and we see that there was no serious methodology to reach an agreement,” he said, adding that nine months “have been wasted in futile negotiations and we will no longer accept waste of time”.
Sudan and Egypt had proposed to include the European Union, the United States and the United Nations as mediators in the dispute, in addition to the continued facilitation of the AU talks. Both countries said Ethiopia rejected the proposal.
Ethiopian water minister Seleshi Bekele told Reuters news agency that Addis Ababa did not believe that the negotiations between the three countries had ended or failed, and added that the appropriate next step would be for the heads of state to meet under the wishes of the African Union.
The tension on the dam comes as Sudan’s relations with Egypt heat up as its relations with Ethiopia have been affected by a dispute over the use of al-Fashaga’s agricultural land near their common border.
In March, Sudan said it accepted an offer from the UAE to mediate with Ethiopia over GERD and the disputed border region.
Abbas said the UAE initiative included investment opportunities in the al-Fashaga region as well as “an unofficial offer to close the GERD gap.”