By Staff Reporter
June 28, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia has trashed reports that it will delay the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Dina Mufti, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country sticks to its schedule to begin filling the dam after two weeks while trying to resolve disputes with Egypt and Sudan.
“The position of the Ethiopian government is clear. Ethiopia is building the dam in line with international laws and does not need the approval of a third party to fill the dam,” Dina told local media.
Al-Haram, Al Jazeera, and Reuters as well as Egypt and Sudan-based media outlets quoted Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdouk as saying that Ethiopia will not start filling the Dam in July. “The three countries will instead return to tripartite talks to reach a final agreement,” he said.
In an emergency summit sponsored by the current chairperson of African Union Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdouk on Friday agreed to restart stalled negotiations.
The office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister in a statement said the leaders agreed to reach a binding agreement in less than three weeks' time until before Ethiopia begins filling the GERD’s reservoir.
The leaders also agreed to form a committee of experts to finalize a binding deal over the controversial dam within the next two or three weeks.
The committee will be provided with support from the leaders of Kenya, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa. International observers – the United States of America and the European Union – will also provide support.
Addis Ababa has been insisting to start filling the reservoir in July even though Egypt and Sudan persisted that the filling shall start after an agreement is reached among the countries.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric project, has been a source of tension in the Nile basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.
Ethiopia said the project is essential for its development and will not cause any significant damage to downstream countries.
About 60 percent of the over 100 million Ethiopian people reportedly do not have access to electricity while 98 percent of the people of Egypt have access to electricity.
Ethiopia contributes 85 percent to the Nile while Egypt, which has abundant underground water resources, contributes nothing to the Abay (Nile) waters.
Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy Dr. Sileshi Bekele tweeted that the countries have agreed to resume talks in an attempt to find an African solution to an African problem.
He said the countries also agreed to reach a final deal over the coming two or three weeks.
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