Ethiopia to begin filling Nile dam in 2 weeks

PresidentSISI

Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements.

The statement did not clarify whether the filing is conditional upon the three sides involved in GERD negotiations, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, reaching an agreement or not.

"Ethiopia is scheduled to begin filling the GERD within the next two weeks, during which the remaining construction work will continue".

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the countries had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalising a deal in two weeks.

South Africa, the current chair of the African Union and which led the Africa group, says there are few issues unresolved, arguing that the matter should first be taken up by the continental body before going to the UN.

The GERD is being built about 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile's waters.

According to the statement, Ramaphosa expressed his aspiration to intensify coordination between the two countries during the coming period, added Radi, noting that the South African President praised the honest and constructive political will that Egypt has always shown to reach a solution to the dam crisis.

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The office of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Friday that "a legally binding final agreement for all parties stressing the prevention of any unilateral moves, including the filling of the dam, will be sent in a letter to the UN Security Council to consider it in its session discussing the Renaissance Dam issue next Monday".

The African Union has two weeks to help broker a deal to end a decade-long dispute over water supplies.

"Egypt's vision in this regard is represented in the importance of returning to negotiation. while working to create an environment conducive to the success of these negotiations through Ethiopia's pledge not to take any unilateral step", Sisi said, according to state media.

Addis Ababa followed suit complaining about Cairo, while Khartoum expressed its concern to the United Nations about Ethiopia unilaterally filling without a comprehensive deal being inked first. Egypt asked the Security Council to become involved in the issue after talks on the dam last week made "little progress".

Egypt and Sudan said Ethiopia would refrain from filling the dam next month until the countries reached a deal.

Egypt last week called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene to restart talks on the mega-project and warned that filling the dam without a deal would "threaten global peace and security".

Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the stand-off to a critical juncture.

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