Sudan officially requests international mediation for Ethiopia dam dispute

Sudan officially requests international mediation in Ethiopia Grand Renaissance Dam dispute
2 min read
15 March, 2021
Sudan's prime minister has written to the UN, EU, US, and AU, asking for help to mediate a dispute between the three countries.
Sudanese prime minister Abdullah Hamdouk travelled to Cairo on 11 March [Getty]

Sudan submitted a formal request on Sunday for international mediation to resolve disputes related to Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD). 

Following a trip to Cairo, Sudanese prime minister Abdullah Hamdouk sent letters on Sunday to the European Union, the United Nations, the chairperson of the African Union, and the United States, formally requesting their help to break the impasse in the talks. 

Discussions related to the filling and operation of the GERD had stalled, following the failure of talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. 

Last year, Ethiopia began the first phase of filling the dam without the coordination of the other countries downstream. Addis Ababa also indicated that it intended to proceed with the second phase of filling, regardless of the outcome of discussions between the three countries. 

During Hamdouk’s visit to Cairo, Egypt reiterated its support for an end to direct talks and instead implement a mechanism of international mediation, headed by the African Union, to solve the ongoing problems. 

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The proposal for international mediation has been rejected by Ethiopia, which is seeking mediation through the African Union alone. 

“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,” Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said. 

In addition to disputes related to the GERD, tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan have run high after a border dispute between the two countries. 

However, “Hamdok requested that the quartet should focus on the outstanding issues between the three countries,” according to a Sudanese official who spoke to the Sudan Tribune.

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Sudan is seeking to use the international mediation to solve disputes concerned with technical issues related to drought and the exchange of information, but will not include the issue of water sharing. 

Ethiopia’s attempts to include issues concerning water sharing in the negotiations of the GERD have been criticised by Hamdouk. 

It is hoped that an agreement can be secured before the second scheduled filling of the dam in July. 

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