As threats of suspension and walkout loom over Nile dam tripartite talks, South Africa on Thursday urged Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to continue with the talks, reported Al Jazeera.
The appeal follows Egypt’s call for a halt in the talks, and Sudan’s warning to withdraw from the tripartite talks, rattling efforts to calm the long running dispute.
In an official statement, South Africa, which as current chair of the African Union (AU) has been acting as mediator, said negotiations were at a critical phase and encouraged the parties to the Nile dam issue to remain engaged.
“We would like to urge them to continue to be guided by the spirit of Pan-African solidarity and fraternity, which has characterised the AU-led negotiations process on the GERD,” International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia began constructing it in 2011.
Egypt and Sudan fear that the dam could restrict their water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it crucial for its electrification and development.
“It is important that the parties should display magnanimity and understanding of each other’s interests so as to move the process forward,” Pandor said.
The call for the suspension of Nile dam issue talks was made after a meeting of tripartite technical and legal committees that are seeking an agreement on how the dam should be filled and operated.
Egypt withdrew from the latest round of tripartite negotiations on the Nile dam for internal consultations.
Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, accused Ethiopia of shifting its position as it now insists the deal on the dam be linked to the wider question of sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.
He warned that Ethiopia’s new position threatens the negotiations under the aegis of the African Union, and Sudan will not participate in negotiations which include the subject of sharing Blue Nile waters.