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Thursday, 22 April 2021

Ethiopia wants GERD talks to return to the AU

Ethiopia asks Sudan to bring back GERD talks to the AU: “The way forward” on the stalled Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations could be to request a meeting of the African Union (AU) Bureau of the Assembly, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed suggested in a letter to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, according to a statement. Ahmed’s proposal appears to be his idea of RSVP-ing to Hamdok’s invitation for the prime ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to attend a summit to revive the negotiations, after they failed yet again to yield any concrete progress.

Ethiopia also doesn’t think negotiations are stalled at all (because apparently all negotiations take a decade): In his letter to Hamdok, Ahmed pointed to “tangible results” from the negotiation process between the three countries, including the signing of the Declaration of Principles and setting up the National Independent Scientific Research Group. For context, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia signed the Declaration of Principles in 2015 and the research group was set up in 2018. Ahmed also suggested that the three countries reached some sort of agreement on “the continued and enhanced role of the observers, namely EU, South Africa, and United States,” although Ethiopia had previously signaled its categorical refusal to bring in the US, EU, UN, and AU as international mediators.

Bringing the talks to the AU now could actually turn out great for Egypt, considering Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s ongoing diplomacy blitz to rally support from the continent’s leaders for Egypt’s position on the issue. The minister made stops yesterday in Senegal and Niger to discuss the GERD talks with the two countries’ leaders. Shoukry has already visited Kenya, Comoros, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past several days, and is expected to make one last stop in Tunisia. Egypt could also continue drumming up support from the rest of the international community, including from Europe and Russia, Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa suggested (watch, runtime: 2:22).

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