One step forward, one step back
Little progress at the UN Security Council on GERD: After more than a week of build-up and anticipation, it seems that France’s UN rep was correct: efforts to persuade the UN Security Council to intervene in the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) did not amount to much. Official statements and reports in the global press suggest that we’re in the same position as we were this time last week: Egypt and Sudan are calling on the UN to back their draft resolution, Ethiopia is protesting against it, and members of the Security Council are reiterating their support for the African Union-led negotiations.
We were warned about this: French UN Ambassador and council president Nicolas de Riviere said days before the meeting that the most the council will do is encourage the three countries to get back around the table and continue negotiations.
Egypt and Sudan are still pushing the Security Council to vote on the resolution tabled by Tunisia, which would set a new six-month deadline for the three countries to come to an agreement through a new round of talks that would bring in an additional mediator such as the UN to work alongside the AU.
Both countries’ foreign ministers sounded notes of optimism in a post-meeting presser, according to the Associated Press. Council members showed support for the resolution and agreed that no unilateral action should be taken, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said. And Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Mahdi said that “we are very much optimistic that the Security Council will address this matter in a responsible way, and it will not just be dropped from its agenda,”
But it doesn’t sound like the council is in a rush to vote on the resolution: Shoukry told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night that the draft resolution will be discussed at some point by the council but emphasized that the process is probably going to take some time (watch, runtime 20:28).
Meanwhile, Ethiopia is still insisting on African solutions to African problems: Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said during the meeting that the council should not get involved in Nile water issues, insisting the matter could be resolved with the mediation of the AU. And the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told reporters at the weekend that the filling of the dam’s reservoir will continue as planned with or without an agreement with the two downstream countries.
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