Sudanese and Egyptian diplomatic sources and journalists said that the participants in the round of negotiations on the Renaissance Dam, which has been taking place since last Saturday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, agreed to extend the meetings to another day.
This comes in the wake of disagreements over the drafting of the final joint statement between the three countries, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
The sources who spoke to the BBC added that the extension decision came because “Egypt and Sudan adhered to the call to expand the mediation to include the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, while Ethiopia adhered to the mediation of the African Union only.”
The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, said earlier that this tour is a final opportunity that the three countries must seize in order to reach an agreement on filling and operating the Renaissance Dam during the coming months and before the next flood season. The parties, it would be possible to reach a solution to the crisis.
The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maryam Al-Mahdi, said that the previous rounds of negotiations that took place under the auspices of the African Union “were ineffective and wasted 200 days of negotiations, and the result of which was a retreat even from what had already been achieved and agreed upon in the previous rounds.”
In her speech during the ministerial talks, Al-Mahdi added that Sudan continues to call for a new approach in order to avoid the negative aspects of the past and calls on the African Union to lead mediation efforts, with the participation of the United Nations, the European Union and the United States of America, to overcome what it described as the stalemate of the negotiations.
Last month, Egypt announced its support for a Sudanese proposal to resume negotiations between the three countries, with the participation of the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, as well as the African Union, as mediators to accomplish an agreement on the Renaissance Dam.
However, Ethiopia rejected this proposal and considered that the African Union is sufficient to sponsor the negotiations, and announced its insistence on the second filling of the dam reservoir in the next flood season, which begins next July.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo had called for the current round of negotiations in its capacity as the current president of the African Union, after the negotiations that South Africa had led over the past year had faltered, and witnessed Ethiopias implementation of the first phase of filling the dam by unilateral decision without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan or informing them of the matter.
This comes after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned last week against compromising Egypt’s share of the Nile River. Sisi had also warned that carrying out filling the dam without a legally binding agreement would lead to unimaginable regional instability.
Egypt fears that the Ethiopian dam will affect its share of the Nile water, which is 55 and a half billion cubic meters annually, which Ethiopia denies and says it aims to generate energy and not reserve water, while Sudan fears the safety standards of the dam that may be the cause of its collapse, which may cause Vast areas of the country drowned and millions affected.
Axis of contention
The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia revolves around the period of filling and how to operate the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile.
Egypt demands that the period of filling the dam be extended to ten years, taking into account the drought years, while Ethiopia adheres to four to seven years instead of two to three years, according to Ethiopian government sources.
Egypt had put forward a proposal that it said was aimed at avoiding drought and stipulated that Ethiopia would not start filling the dam without Egypt’s approval, which was rejected by Ethiopia.
It is noteworthy that the Ethiopian government began building the Renaissance Dam in April 2011 with the aim of producing hydroelectric power in the Ethiopian state of Benishangul, close to the Sudanese border, to fill Ethiopias shortage of electric power and to export electricity to neighboring countries.
The three countries, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan held many rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the African Union, but without reaching a final and binding agreement for the three parties.