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United Nations Security Council calles for a binding deal on GERD

The United Nations Security Council urged the Blue Nile riparian countries to reach a binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's (GERD) filling and operation.

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The United Nations Security Council urged the Blue Nile riparian countries to reach a binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) filling and operation.

The call coincided with the arrival of Congolese Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula, who handed over a document produced by African Union specialists to his Sudanese counterpart Mariam al-Mahdi ahead of the reopening of African Union-led negotiations.

According to the draft resolution, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement asking for the African Union to resume negotiations to secure a “binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD” after more than a month of consultations. Tunisia drafted the statement, which will be released on Thursday. Before it was adopted, the draft statement was changed four times. It is the first foreign position on the dispute since the Security Council discussed it for the first time on June 29, 2020. Following a request from the League of Arab States to discuss the GERD issue, the Council considered the matter once more on July 8, 2021.

The Ethiopian foreign ministry immediately issued a statement on Wednesday rejecting the presidential proclamation, claiming that the dispute is outside of its authority. “It is regrettable that the Council pronounces itself over an issue of water rights and development that is outside of its mandate,” stated the Ethiopian foreign ministry. “Ethiopia will not recognize any claim that may be raised on the basis of the presidential statement,” the statement stressed.

Following a meeting with his Sudanese counterpart in Khartoum, the visiting Congolese minister told the media that Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi is resolved to continue his efforts to find a solution to the GERD situation, based on the premise of “African solutions to African problems.” He went on to say that his visit is part of a regional trip that includes Egypt and Ethiopia to review their positions on the delayed process in the wake of the Kinshasa talks in April.

According to SUNA, the Lutundula presented al-Mahdi with a document prepared by a joint team of specialists from the Congolese president and the African Union Commission, which summarized the agreed and outstanding points between the three nations regarding GERD filling and operation. Sudan and the other two countries must analyze this text and present their viewpoints and opinions to the experts. The specialists, for their part, will try to bridge the differences between the three countries and come up with a compromise that is acceptable to all parties, according to the official agency.

Al-Mahdi stated that Sudan is eager to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union as soon as feasible. She also emphasized the importance of avoiding the ineffectual mechanism utilized in previous agreements. The minister was alluding to a Sudanese proposal on the need for mediation sponsored by the African Union, which included the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. She went on to say that the parties must have a strong level of political will in order to establish a legally binding agreement on the GERD’s filling and operation.

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