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The New Arab Staff

Ethiopia rejects Egyptian-Sudanese plan for international mediation on Nile Dam dispute

Dina Mufti said that Ethiopia will only accept African Union mediation [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2021

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Ethiopia has rejected a proposal by Egypt and Sudan to involve the US, EU, and UN in negotiations over the simmering disagreements over the Great Renaissance Dam.

Ethiopia on Tuesday rejected a plan proposed by Egypt and Sudan for international mediation over a dispute over the Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) which Addis Ababa has constructed on the Blue Nile and threatens water supplies of countries further up the river.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said that his country would only accept negotiation efforts from the African Union, currently led by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The GERD issue can be solved under the auspices of the ongoing African Union-led negotiation which does not necessitate the involvement of a different party over the issue as a mediator," he said.

The African Union has led efforts to mediate between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the GERD since last year.

However, the dispute between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand and Ethiopia on the other over the controversial dam is ongoing.

Read more: Egypt and Ethiopia's Nile dam - Negotiating in the shadow of disaster?

Egypt fears that the dam could have catastrophic consequences, depriving its people of life-giving water and devastating its agriculture. Sudan says that unregulated filling of the dam could expose millions of its citizens to the dangers of floods.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi visited Sudan on Saturday and the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement last week.

Both countries proposed that the US, the EU, and Kenya - which currently has a seat on the UN Security Council - should take part in mediation efforts, forming a "quartet" with the African Union.

However, Mufti said that Ethiopia believed the African Union should be the sole mediator in the dispute.

"Ethiopia strongly believes that African problems can be solved through African solutions and the African Union and the [Democratic Republic of Congo] are perfectly capable of coming up with win-win solutions to all," he stated.

On 5 March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the UN was available to help mediate the dispute, following a telephone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Sudan on Tuesday warned its citizens of water shortages between April and July, when Ethiopia is due to fill the GERD for a second time.

Sudan has previously strongly criticised Ethiopia's plans to unilaterally fill the GERD, saying that this could disrupt water supply in Sudan and expose its citizens to flooding.

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