The tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), brokered by the African Union, are set to resume “in the next few days” according to Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas.
In statements to Sudanese news agency SUNA on Thursday, Abbas revealed that the AU is finalising its procedures for the negotiations over the disputed mega-dam.
“The AU is working on preparing a list of African observers (experts) to engage in the negotiations, along with the other three observers who are already in, representing the US, the EU and South Africa,” Abbas said.
The previous rounds of negotiations between the three countries, held virtually from 9-17 June, failed to produce an accord due to Ethiopia’s refusal to enter into a legally binding agreement and its announcement that it will begin filling the dam in July even without approval from the two downstream countries.
A few days later, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current AU chairman, called for a resumption of negotiations under the aegis of the regional body, a move that was welcomed by the three countries.
The leaders of the three countries, along with Ramaphosa, held an online mini-summit on Friday.
At the summit, Ethiopia agreed to delay the filling of the hydropower dam until a final binding deal is reached. The summit also agreed to form a committee of legal and technical experts to draft a final binding deal.
The technical committee will try to strike a deal within two weeks as suggested by Ethiopia, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said following the summit.
The AU issued a statement on Saturday to the effect that the dam committee will present its report to Ramaphosa within one week.
“The Sudanese negotiations team continues preparations to resume the talks on the Renaissance Dam during the coming few days,” the Sudanese minister was quoted as saying on Thursday.
The Sudanese team includes representatives of sovereign ministries as well as water and reservoir experts.
The minister added that his country’s delegation is “fully prepared for resuming negotiations to agree on the specific outstanding points grounded in the numerous initiatives presented by Sudan during the previous negotiating rounds.”
The United Nations Security Council held a session on the issue on Monday, at the request of Egypt, and it urged the three parties to reach an agreement.