Egypt and Sudan have rejected Ethiopia’s offer for a transitional agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Dam, which has been a source of contention between Egypt and Ethiopia since 2011.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok sent two separate letters to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week expressing their rejection to his proposal for a transitional agreement, which allows Ethiopia to start filling of the dam in mid-July 2020.
Cairo-based European diplomat, an Egyptian government official and a Khartoum-based political source told Egyptian media outlet, Mada Masr, that the Ethiopian government had sent letters to Egypt and Sudan 10 days ago proposing a temporary agreement to allow for Addis Ababa to begin the initial filling of the dam reservoir and for negotiations on a final agreement to restart in the autumn 2020.
Tensions have simmered between Cairo and Addis Ababa since 2011, when Ethiopia announced plans to build the mega-dam, pitting Ethiopia’s push to generate electricity for domestic consumption and export against Egypt’s fears over water scarcity.
Despite years of negotiations, the two sides have been unable to overcome key differences to finalise an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam. The United States became involved in the dispute in November 2019 after Egypt called for international mediation. Delegations from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met three times in Washington DC in December 2019 and January-February 2020. Ethiopia pulled out of the final meeting on 27 February 20 where a deal was to be signed. Egypt then unilaterally signed the US drafted agreement.
Egypt is still determined that any final deal would have to be based on “the entirety of the text of the agreement negotiated in Washington,” the Egyptian official said.