South Africa International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday implored Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to proceed with peaceful talks on the use of the Nile following a feud which led to shifts from the initial agreement.
For many years now negotiations on the use of the dam by Ethiopia did not yield any positive results, recently the parties managed to strike an agreement with the help of mediation from A.U chairperson. Currently the agreement seems to be facing gigantic barriers, as parties halted further talks.
Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, played a major role in bringing the two parties to a Consensus after the collapse of United States-mediated talks in February. Sudan is also much worried on its water supply.
Ethiopia and Egypt have conflicting interest on the use of the dam, as Ethiopia hinged its ambitions on the mega-project of electrification and development which is said to boost its economy. The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile river, from which an estimated 100 million Egyptians acquire 90 percent of fresh water, as such Egypt is likely to face water shortages if Ethiopia executes its electrification program.
The call for peaceful talks comes after Egypt said further talks to the agreement should be halted while Sudan threatened to withdraw negotiations.
“We would like to urge them to continue to be guided by the spirit of Pan-African solidarity and fraternity, which has characterised the AU-led negotiations process on the GERD,” said Pandor.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has caused severe tension in the Nile River since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011.
“It is important that the parties should display magnanimity and understanding of each other’s interests so as to move the process forward,” added Pandor.
Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, accused Ethiopia of changing stance on the initial agreements.
“This new Ethiopian position threatens the negotiations under the aegis of the African Union, and Sudan will not participate in negotiations which include the subject of sharing Blue Nile waters,” said Abbas.
Both Egypt and Sudan have rights to use the Nile due to treaties entered into in 1929 and 1959.
Egypt’s water ministry, noted that Ethiopia’s draft proposal lacked substance and contravened guidelines set at an AU summit on July 21.
“Egypt and Sudan demanded meetings be suspended for internal consultations,”
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC NEWS Correspondent