Sudan implies it could take control of contentious Ethiopia dam

Sudan implies it could take control of contentious Ethiopia dam
Khartoum has suggested that it could withdraw from a 1902 agreement transferring territory where the Great Renaissance Dam was built from Sudan to Ethiopia.
3 min read
02 May, 2021
The dam is located in an area once part of Sudan [Gallo Images/Copernicus Sentinel Data]
Sudan has implied it could in the future take control of a controversial Nile dam built by Ethiopia as the two countries continue to trade threats and criticism over the issue.

Khartoum could "reconsider" Addis Ababa's sovereignity over the Benishangul region where the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was built, the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The GERD is only eighteen kilometres from the Ethiopia-Sudan border.

The ministry was responding to the condemnation of "colonial agreements" about Nile water shares by Ethiopian officials.

If Ethiopia continues to reject Sudan and Egypt's reference to the agreements during negotations over the dam, Addis Ababa will "compromise" its sovereignity over the region, the Sudanese foreign ministry said.

Read more: Ethiopian FM accuses Egypt and Sudan of 'monopolizing' Nile as talks stall

The region was transferred from Sudanese to Ethiopian control under the 1902 Anglo-Ethiopian treaty, the ministry added. The UK was occupying Egypt and Sudan, both parties to the treaty, at the time, while Ethiopia was independent.

The agreement also prohibited Ethiopia from any construction that will limit the flow of the Blue Nile. 

Sudanese and Egyptian officials have previously pointed to the prohibition in the 1902 agreement, prompting Ethiopia to disavow the colonial-era treaty.

"The Ethiopian claim that the relevant agreements are an insignificant colonial legacy is an explicit fallacy of historical facts, indicating that Ethiopia was an independent, sovereign state and a member of the international community at the time of the conclusion of those agreements," the Sudanese foreign ministry said this week.

"Such selective disavowal of international agreements for propaganda and domestic political reasons is a harmful and costly approach that does not help to reach a negotiated agreement acceptable to all parties," the ministry added.

During a visit to Uganda on Saturday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi added that Sudan has made all "possible concessions" to reach an agreement with Ethiopia and Egypt over the dam.

However, she said that Addis Ababa has acted as an "aggressor, wasting time to inflict harm on others".

Ethiopia said on Saturday it would go ahead with a second filling of the Nile dam scheduled to take place in July despite not having reached an agreement with Sudan and Egypt.

Mahdi characterized this as an attempt to hamper negotiations and create a fait accompli.

For his part, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni voiced his support for negotiations about the issue and vowed to discuss the dam with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Uganda, an upstream Nile country which has historically been at odds with Egypt and Sudan over access to the Nile, recently signed an intelligence sharing agreement with Egypt amid heightened tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over the GERD.

Ethiopia says the dam is necessary to provide power to its population of more than 100 million.

Egypt and Sudan say filling the dam could dangerously impact the Nile's water levels and interfere with the operation of their own dams. 97 percent of Egypt's water comes from the Nile.
Requests by Egypt and Sudan to allow international actors including the African Union, European Union and the United States to mediate the now decade-long negotiations have been rejected by Ethiopia as a stalling tactic.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected