Ethiopia will proceed on the second phase of filling its controversial massive dam in the upcoming rainy season in July as planned, according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.
In his meeting with US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, Mekonnen briefed the delegation on the tripartite negotiations regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
In a statement by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti, on Tuesday, Mekonnen stressed that Ethiopia has legal and sovereign right to use the Nile water “for development fairly and equitably”.
The country also has no interest in harming the lower Nile Basin countries in doing so, Mekonnen added.
“The filling of the dam is part of the overall construction project,” he said, adding that although Ethiopia contributes 86% of the water share of the River Nile, 60% of its citizens still live in darkness.
He also said that Addis Ababa aims to change this once the construction of the dam, located on the Blue Nile, is concluded.
Mufti stressed that his country has always been committed to resolving issues through negotiations, in a way that addresses the concerns of Sudan and Egypt.
He affirmed that Ethiopia is keen to sustain the African Union (AU)-led talks under the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Chairpersonship.
The Ethiopian official said that his country considers the 2015 Declaration of Principles as the standard when aiming to change the modalities of the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign said, on Tuesday, that Ethiopia did not respond to the international calls to resume the negotiations, describing the Ethiopian position as “intransigent”.
Sudan has proposed an initiative agreed by Egypt, to involve international parties in the GERD talks. The quartet mediation includes the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the United States (US), and the African Union (AU). However, Ethiopia has firmly rejected the proposal.