The Sudanese government decided to boycott a ministerial meeting held on Saturday over Ethiopia’s controversial mega-dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), calling on the African Union to play a greater role in pushing forward negotiations, reported CGTN Africa.
In a statement, Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasser Abbas said that the current approach of Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia to reaching a tripartite agreement on the filling and operation of the Nile dam had not yielded the desired results. He said the union should take more necessary steps to facilitate the negotiation and bridge the gap between the three parties.
It was the first time that Sudan boycotted talks with Ethiopia and Egypt, which has expressed its fears that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile will dramatically threaten water supplies downstream.
“The adopted negotiating method during the past rounds has proved ineffective,” Abbas said.
The Sudanese minister said the government’s adherence to the negotiation process under the African Union to reach a binding and satisfactory legal agreement pursuant to the principle of “African solutions for African issues.”
The Sudanese delegation also wants the African Union and U.S. observers to be given the status of mediators.
The development comes after the foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries met in a virtual meeting on Thursday, two weeks after they failed to agree on a new framework for negotiations.
The three countries have been negotiating over all the technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD under the leadership of the African Union.
Ethiopia, which began constructing the GERD in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the project. On the other hand, Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater, fear that the dam might affect their water resources.