These statements come the day after the end of fruitless negotiations between the foreign ministers of the three countries in Kinshasa, under the auspices of the Congolese head of state Félix Tshisekedi, current president of the African Union (AU).
Since Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011, Egypt and Sudan wanted a tripartite agreement on the operation of the dam before filling began. But Ethiopia believes that this filling is an integral part of the construction of its “Great Renaissance Dam” (or GERD) and cannot be delayed.
Despite the diplomatic impasse, the filling, a first phase of which was completed in 2020, will therefore continue during the next rainy season which is due to begin in June or July, announced its Minister of Water, Seleshi Bekele on Wednesday.
“As construction progresses, filling takes place,” he told a press conference. “We are not giving it up,” he said.
From Khartoum, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas warned Addis Ababa that for his country “all options are possible, including a return to the Security Council (and) the path to political hardening”, if “Ethiopia undertakes second refill without agreement”.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also reiterated his warnings. “I say to our Ethiopian brothers: do not touch a drop of Egypt’s water because all options are open,” he said at a ceremony in eastern Cairo.
At the end of March, President Sisi had already mentioned “unimaginable instability” if the dam threatened “a drop of water” in Egypt.
– “Danger imminent” –
The GERD has been a source of tension between the three countries since the laying of the foundation stone in April 2011.
This mega-dam, with a total capacity of 74 billion m3 of water, is built in northwest Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan, on the Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum. to form the Nile.
With an announced capacity of nearly 6,500 megawatts, it could become the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa.
Ethiopia says the hydroelectric power produced by the dam is vital to meeting the energy needs of its 110 million people.
But Egypt, which depends on the Nile for around 97% of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the Ethiopian dam as a threat to its water supply.
Sudan meanwhile fears its own dams could be damaged if Ethiopia fully replenishes GERD before an agreement is reached.
The last attempt at negotiations to date, in Kinshasa, ended on Tuesday evening with a new observation of failure.
Ethiopia “threatens the peoples of the Nile Basin, and Sudan directly,” said Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Mansoura Elsadig Almahdi after three days of talks.
“Without a new program (for the discussions), Ethiopia has a boulevard in front of it to put the peoples of the region and the entire African continent in imminent danger,” she said.
Ethiopia’s Irrigation Minister on Wednesday lamented that Egyptian and Sudanese negotiators called for increased involvement of South African, American and European Union (EU) observers. Ethiopia wishes to prioritize the process led by the AU Presidency, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, its capital.
Talks are due to resume before the end of the month, Ethiopian diplomacy said Tuesday evening.
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