Sudan, Egypt say Ethiopia will not fill Nile dam without reaching deal

Ethiopia says on track to fill mega-dam as African Union pushes for deal

Ethiopia is scheduled to begin filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam within the next two weeks, during which the remaining construction work will continue, according to Office of the Prime Minister.

FILE - This satellite image taken Thursday, May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia.

"The Bureau of the Assembly [the AU Extraordinary Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments] received with appreciation a report from Chairperson of the AUC Moussa Faki Mahamat, which inter alia noted that more than 90 percent of the issues of the Tripartite Negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have already been resolved", the African Union announced in a communique issued Saturday on the virtual teleconference held by the Bureau of the Assembly members on the dam issue.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the countries had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalising a deal in two weeks. Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of US -mediated talks in February.

Ramaphosa said on Twitter, 'The Bureau of the African Union Assembly convened an extraordinary meeting last night to facilitate negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the finalisation of the GERD'.

All the points that were agreed during the summit will be sent to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for its consideration during its session discussing the GERD dispute this coming Monday 29 June, said the Egyptian Presidency in a statement.

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"Using the Nile water is a natural right for Ethiopia", Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said.

But Sudan and Egypt downstream first want a legally-binding agreement on how long it will take to fill the dam, and the way it will be operated.

"A letter with the AU meeting's outcomes will be sent to the Security Council, as it is the global body with jurisdiction, in order to take it into consideration when holding a session to discuss the Renaissance Dam issue on Monday", announced Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.

Abdel Atti added that his country had offered a number of technical solutions that will enable Ethiopia to "produce 80 per cent of the dam's total power capacity in the most severe cases of drought". Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.

Cairo fears the dam would severely cut its Nile water supply, which provides almost 97 percent of the country's freshwater needs.

The Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it snakes through.

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