Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

Sudan rejects Ethiopia's proposal to fill mega-dam

Khartoum and Cairo fear dam will trap essential water supplies when Addis Ababa starts to fill its giant reservoir

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks at a news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. AP
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks at a news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. AP

Sudan on Tuesday rejected an Ethiopian proposal for an initial agreement to approve the filling of a mega-dam it is building.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said he could not sign the draft agreement because "it poses legal and technical problems that must be addressed".

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged him to sign the agreement.

But Khartoum and Cairo fear the dam will trap their essential water supplies if Addis Ababa started to fill the reservoir in July.

Hamed Saleh, Sudan's chief negotiator in talks organised by the US, said Khartoum's concerns included long-term environmental and social effects.

Tension has been high in the Nile basin since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Addis Ababa says the dam is crucial for its economy, while Egypt fears it will disrupt the river that provides almost all of its water.

Sudan hopes the dam will provide much-needed electricity and help to regulate flooding.

The US Treasury Department and the World Bank stepped in as observers last year in talks between the three countries, after negotiations repeatedly failed.

"The only way to reach a comprehensive agreement is for all parties to go back to the negotiating table immediately," Mr Hamdok said.

The 6,600-kilometre Nile is a lifeline, supplying water and electricity to the 10 countries it crosses.

Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt, then into the Mediterranean.

Updated: June 10, 2020 12:01 AM

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