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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Egypt rejects Ethiopian request to stall decision on sticking points on 8th day of GERD talks

Egypt bats away Ethiopia’s proposal to kick the can: Egypt has refused a proposal put forward by Ethiopia on Friday to delay decisions on crucial points of contention in the framework for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the cabinet said in a statement. Egypt instead submitted a number of alternative solutions to address the outstanding differences, which remain unresolved despite months of intensive negotiations.

What Ethiopia is proposing: Addis Ababa’s proposal would see Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan sign a basic agreement with the points on which they already see eye-to-eye. Outstanding issues — including outlining a legal mechanism to resolve future disputes, and procedures for filling and operating the dam during periods of drought — would then be referred to a specialized technical committee that would be established under the preliminary agreement, which would then look into and settle these issues at a later time. The Egyptian delegation argued that this would essentially gloss over core disputes that need to be settled and put into a technical agreement.

Sudan is also getting uneasy as the threat to Nile river flow is fast approaching: There is now growing concern among Sudenese workers on the Nile over the changes GERD will likely bring to their livelihoods, Reuters reports. Pottery makers are worried they “will get less clay and less water” as the dam’s reservoir begins filling while farmers and fishermen further downstream also expect agriculture and fish stocks to be harmed. Some 20 mn people in Sudan are expected to be impacted in some form by the dam if not operated correctly.

Russia wants to get more involved as US mediation efforts fall flat: Bloomberg suggests that Donald Trump’s friendship with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi means the US was never going to be accepted as an impartial broker. The African Union (AU) has accused Washington of bias and questioned the Trump administration’s commitment to a fair resolution to the crisis. The AU has repeatedly said that GERD is an “African issue” that will be resolved with “African solutions.” That’s leaving room for Russia to come up the middle, is offering “technical assistance” to resolve the GERD dispute, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week, according to Russia’s Tass.

The talks are getting attention in the foreign press: BBC | The Times | The National | Arab News.

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