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Sudan refuses water shares talk in Renaissance Dam negotiations

The Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources in Sudan, reaffirmed his country’s refusal to discuss division of water shares during the Renaissance Dam negotiations, indicating that the negotiations are solely concerned with the dam’s filling and operation only.

AlTaghyeer: Sara Taj al-Sir

Yasser Abbas’s statements came during his meeting with French ambassador to Khartoum Emmanuel Platman; a mere 45 hours before his departure for New York.

The two sides discussed the Renaissance Dam negotiations file and the obstacles that stand in the way.

“Sudan has supported the Renaissance Dam from the beginning because Ethiopia has the right to water and the expected benefits from the dam according to international water law,” Abbas said.

He explained that the negotiations have been exclusively concerned with the processes of filling and operating for nearly ten years, in reference to Ethiopia’s change of its position from July 2020, when it began talking about Nile water quotas.

The Minister recounted to the French diplomat the progress of the negotiations under the umbrella of the African Union from June 2020 until February 2021, and mentioned that when the Union received the file, the percentage of issues agreed upon between the three countries, with the testimony of the African Union itself, was 90%.

The minister pointed out that now, after the end of the negotiation rounds, the number of disputed issues has increased, referring to his country’s proposal for the quartet mediation which was approved by Egypt and rejected by Ethiopia.

Changing the Negotiation Methodology

The minister informed the French official that Sudan will not enter into any talks unless it is agreed to change the negotiation methodology and to give a greater role to observers and experts.

He believed that the issue of the Renaissance Dam has become complicated and more political than technical.

The minister conveyed Sudan’s fears that the benefits of the Renaissance Dam could turn damaging and disastrous if a legal agreement was not signed, stressing that Ethiopia had already taken the decision to fill in this July, after it started building the middle corridor with the presence of two lower holes with an average discharge of 90 million cubic meters per day.

The minister revealed that there are technical precautions taken by the ministry to reduce the effects of unilateral filling during the current July, by maintaining a stockpile of one billion cubic meters in the Roseires reservoir and changing the operation of the Jebel Awliya reservoir for the first time and not draining it to its lowest level.

As per the minister, these precautions have implications on hydroelectric generation, and were taken due to the lack of any information or data exchange with Ethiopia; pointing out that this was the reason for Sudan’s demand for a signed agreement with Ethiopia.

The minister called for the necessity of exerting external pressure on Addis Ababa, so that the filling is not done unilaterally, and for Ethiopia to return to negotiations in hopes of reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties.

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