Sudan threatens legal action against Ethiopia over dam

Sudan warned Ethiopia on Friday that if it moves ahead with plans to fill a mega-dam on the Blue Nile without first reaching an agreement with Khartoum and Cairo, it could face legal action. 

Water Minister Yasser Abbas also said in a tweet that Ethiopia has raised “objections” to an invitation by Sudan to attend three-way talks to discuss the controversial dam.

For nearly a decade, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have been in deadlock over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which broke ground in 2011.

The dam has been viewed as an existential threat to Cairo’s water supply, although Khartoum is concerned that if Ethiopia fills the reservoir without a settlement, it would damage its own dams. 

After recent African Union-sponsored talks failed to yield a settlement, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok invited his Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts to a closed meeting last week. 

“Ethiopia has objected to the invitation of Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok for a three-way summit and we see that there is no justification for that,” Abbas tweeted.

According to Nation Africa, Addis Ababa announced last July that it had filled part of the barrage with a second stage due to take place this coming July, even if no agreement has been reached with Cairo and Khartoum.

If Ethiopia goes ahead with the filling, Sudan “would file lawsuits against the Italian company constructing the dam and the Ethiopian government”, Abbas warned.

He said the lawsuits would highlight that the “environmental and social impact as well as the dangers of the dam” have not been taken into adequate consideration.

The issues over the dam come as Sudan’s relations with Egypt warm while its relations with Ethiopia have been hit by a dispute over the use of the Fashaga farmland near their common border.

Sudan announced in March that it had accepted the United Arab Emirates’ offer to mediate with Ethiopia over GERD and the disputed border zone. 

The UAE’s initiative, according to Abbas, included investment opportunities in the Fashaga area as well as an unofficial offer to bridge the gap in views on GERD.

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