The African Union (AU) called on the three sides involved in negotiations on the Ethiopian dam to reach a legally binding agreement on its filling and operation.
According to a statement by Ahmed Hafez, spokesperson for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the AU call came during the Tuesday mini-summit on the Ethiopian dam.
The summit had stressed that the agreement should include legal mechanism binding to the settlement of disputes. The mechanisms are necessary to resolve any future differences regarding the interpretation or implementation of the agreement that may arise between the three countries involved in the negotiations, namely Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
The AU also emphasised that negotiations should focus on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as an electricity generation facility, rather than an issue of water consumption. It added that negotiations should not involve any issues unrelated to the dam, or future aspirations in the negotiation process.
The three negotiating countries also agreed to continue talks, and focus at the present time on giving priority to crystallising the binding agreement on filling and operating the Dam.
The sides would also later work to develop a comprehensive agreement for all aspects of joint cooperation with a view to strengthening partnership relations between the Blue Nile countries. This would include fulfilling the aspirations of three countries’ citizens and secure their interests.
Hafez stated that the summit dealt with the basic principles governing the negotiations, of which the most important is putting a stop to unilateral actions by the parties. This constitutes a cornerstone for the success of negotiations, and embodies the goodwill of all parties and their real desire to promote trust and cooperation between the three countries.
Hafez stressed that the commitment of all parties to implement the summit’s outcomes is necessary for successful negotiations. This would also contribute to a balanced and fair agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Ethiopian dam.
Also during the mini-summit on Tuesday, Heads of State from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia agreed to resume talks on the Ethiopian dam’s filling and operation, with the aim of reaching a legally binding agreement.
This came as Ethiopia announced that its first-year target for filling the dam has been reached due to the heavy rain the country has witnessed in the past two weeks. Egypt and Sudan have agreed to further technical discussions on outstanding issues as part of an AU-led process.
Tensions escalated last week after reports surfaced claiming that Ethiopia had begun filling the dam’s reservoir. The country’s Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity, Sileshi Bekele, had initially told Ethiopia’s official broadcast service that filing had begun, although he retracted the statement in a matter of hours. The last round of negotiations, which were sponsored by the AU, failed to reach fruitful results on the dam’s disputed technical and legal points.