The 11th meeting of the tripartite committee on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) began Sunday in Khartoum with the participation of the Foreign Ministers and Ministers of Irrigation of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Electricity Moataz Mosa said in press statements to the official Sudanese news agency (SUNA) Saturday that the meeting will resume talks from on the previous meeting. The three sides all care to reach an agreement through negotiations to fulfill common interests of the three countries.
The Ethiopian delegation arrived half an hour late for the opening session, which was scheduled to begin at 9am, whereas the Egyptian and Sudanese delegations attended on time.
Just hours before the meeting began, Ethiopia announced on Saturday evening the diversion of the Blue Nile’s course to run through the dam for the first time after construction of the first four water inlets was completed.
In response, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Al-Moghazy said this is a normal step since it is part of the Ethiopian construction operations. The course was diverted two years ago to begin constructions and it has now been diverted again to its original course.
He said this step does not have to do with the tripartite meeting, and that re-diverting the Nile’s course allows the water to pass beneath the dam for the first time.
Political Sciences Professor and deputy manager of the Sudanese Centre at the African Research Institute at Cairo University and the African-Arab issues expert Ayman Shabana told Daily News Egypt that this round of talks at the meeting will not result in any positive achievement.
Ethiopia does not wish to resolve the issue because it aims to build the dam no matter what, he continued.
Shabana identified “clear signs” of Ethiopia’s bad intentions, pointing to the diversion of the Blue Nile as one, as it occurred “without permission from Egypt”.
“It is a very overriding action, which underestimates Egypt,” Shabana said.
Another sign, according to Shabana, is Ethiopia’s insistence on holding the meetings in Khartoum or Ethiopia, and its refusal to hold any meetings in Egypt. “They know [building the dam] is wrong and violates principles, so they do not want to hold any meetings in Egypt,” Shabana said.
“Then Nile is the backbone of Egypt,” he said, noting that he does not expect that they will reach an agreement in this meeting and the talks would lead to failure.
Former minister of irrigation and water resources Mohamed Nasr El-Din Allam further conceded to Shabana’s expectations, telling Daily News Egypt the negotiations of this meeting will not lead to any agreements or a clear deal. As with previous meetings, Ethiopia will postpone until it achieves its goal and builds the dam before the completion of the technical studies, he said.
“Ethiopia is buying time through meetings, which end without any clear agreements. They want to extend meetings in order to gain time,” Allam said.
He expects that Ethiopia will build the dam prior to the expected completion of the technical study by the beginning of June. “It will begin phase one, which is a violation of the principles that were signed in March,” Allam said.
Allam thereby proposed that Egypt involve the African Union’s organisations, and for the Security Council to tackle the situation as a next step.”The real way is that Egypt must internationalise the issue in order to find a prompt solution and Egypt could protect itself from the threat of water scarcity,” Allam said.