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Sunday, 9 May 2021

Everyone, everywhere is talking GERD

Ethiopia is currently aiming to reach an agreement with Egypt and Sudan on “just the second filling” of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ahead of the upcoming rainy season in July or August, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told reporters at a press briefing Saturday, Sky News Arabia reports. This would entail reaching an agreement within the next few weeks. Ethiopia had previously insisted that it would unilaterally move ahead with the second filling of GERD’s reservoir with or without a binding agreement, despite Egypt and Sudan’s objections.

Ethiopia still wants “African solutions to African problems,” and is committed to reaching an agreement through African Union-brokered negotiations, Mufti said in a statement, adding that “Sudan and Egypt are unnecessarily internationalizing the matter” by calling for mediation by a quartet of international observers. The latest round of four-days talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in Kinshasa last month once again reached a dead end after the three countries were unable to agree on how to proceed with negotiations.

The new US envoy also made a stop in Sudan for GERD talks: Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman was in Sudan on Friday as part of a 10-day regional tour to resolve the GERD impasse, SUNA reports. The two-day visit wrapped up yesterday. Feltman will visit Ethiopia this week, having held talks in Egypt on Wednesday and Eritrea on Thursday. The Associated Press and Reuters also have the story.

The talking heads have diverging opinions on Feltman: US President Joe Biden appointing Feltman and the envoy’s tour of the region seem to indicate that a US-brokered agreement is coming, El Hekaya’s Amr Adib said (watch, runtime: 4:21). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa, meanwhile, all but put on a MAGA hat to suggest that the Biden administration wants Ethiopia to go ahead with the second filling to “tighten the noose” around Egypt’s neck. Moussa pointed to former President Donald Trump’s statement that Egypt could blow up the dam as an indicator that we only had backing from the previous administration (watch, runtime: 3:04).

Congo — in its capacity as AU chairman — is keen to resolve the GERD dispute, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said in a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo yesterday as part of a regional tour to restart negotiations, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Tshisekedi said he would concentrate his coordination efforts during the AU-sponsored negotiations in order to facilitate a “fair and balanced” agreement. Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi took note of the meeting (watch, runtime: 2:24).

Egypt’s position has remained unchanged, with El Sisi reiterating that GERD is a matter of life or death for us and that Egypt remains committed to a political resolution.

The Congolese president also held meetings with head of the ruling sovereign council Abdel Fattah Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum yesterday, during which Sudan expressed concern that its power-generating capacity could be affected by the dam, according to Sudan’s state news agency SUNA. Sudan rejects any “unilateral” moves to fill the dam, said Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Sadiq said in a press statement, Sky News Arabia reports.

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