Khalid Abdelaziz and Aidan Lewis
Khartoum (Reuters)-Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday called for a binding agreement on the operation of Ethiopia’s giant dam by the summer. He visited neighboring Sudan for the first time since the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019. .
Egypt has also expressed its support for Sudan in the recent armed conflict in the border area of the border between the two countries with Ethiopia.
Egypt and Sudan are both downstream of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa says is critical to its economic development.
Ethiopia said it has all the rights to use the Nile water that Egypt has long exploited. Last summer, after Egypt and Sudan failed to reach a legally binding agreement on the operation of the dam, Ethiopia started filling the reservoir behind the dam.
Khartoum is worried that the dam on the Blue Nile bordering Sudan may increase the risk of flooding and affect the safe operation of the Nile dam, while Egypt, which lacks water, is worried that its Nile supply will be hit.
Years of diplomatic negotiations on the project have repeatedly stalled. In the past two years, Cairo has conducted a series of diplomatic activities on this issue, and the positions of Egypt and Sudan have become closer.
The Egyptian Chief of Staff signed a military cooperation agreement with his Sudanese counterparts during his visit to Sudan this week.
After meeting with Sudanese leaders, Sisi said: “We confirm the need to resume serious and effective negotiations with a view to reaching a fair, balanced and legally binding agreement as soon as possible before the next flood season.”
Sudan recently proposed that the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union should actively mediate disputes instead of just observing the talks. Egypt has expressed support for this.
Ethiopia this week expressed its opposition to adding mediators to the existing African Union-led process.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the day after Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to resume “serious” negotiations on the dam, Sisi issued Appealed.
When Sisi met with Abdul Fatah Burhan, Chairman of the Sudanese Ruling Council, he also discussed “Sudan’s recent move to expand national sovereignty on the eastern border between Sudan and Ethiopia. This is in the context of Sudan’s respect for international agreements.” . Said the president.
Sudan and Ethiopia blamed each other for the unrest in the Fashka border area, which had been settled by Ethiopian farmers for a long time. Ethiopia rejected Sudan’s claim, claiming that Sudan claimed its right to control the area under the border agreement of 1903.
Since Bashir was overthrown after mass protests, the political transition of a military and civil affairs committee under the Sudanese regime is expected to last until the end of 2023.
(Writing by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum, Aidan Lewis and Mohamed Waly in Cairo, and Dawit Endeshaw in Addis Ababa; Editing by Helen Popper and Catherine Evans)