Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agree to delay filling dam

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed that Addis Ababa will delay postponing a mega-dam as part of a comprehensive agreement on the project that has raised tensions between the three countries, the Egyptian presidency said on Friday.
Ethiopia had previously pushed to fill the gigantic Nildamm next month despite fierce opposition from downstream Egypt and Sudan, and the dispute was raised with the United Nations last week.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's office said on Friday that "a legally binding final agreement for all parties, stressing the prevention of unilateral steps, including the filling of the dam," was written in a letter to the UN Security Council for consideration it will be broadcast in its session on Renaissance Dam next Monday. "
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was more open and said in a statement that "it has been agreed that the filling of the dam will be delayed until an agreement is reached".
His office said technical committees for all three countries will try to finalize a deal within two weeks, as suggested by Ethiopia.
"Sudan is one of the biggest beneficiaries from the dam and also one of the biggest losers if risks are not mitigated, so Egypt and Ethiopia are facing the impending need ... to find a solution," added Hamdok.
The small breakthrough came after a virtual meeting of the African Union Executive Council, chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Other participants were the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Political tensions have been high-feed Ethiopia and behind Egypt and Sudan failed after the recent ministerial talks to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Addis Ababa voiced his plans to fill the Blue Nile dam in July.
Egypt, which sees the hydropower plant as an existential threat, appealed to the UN Security Council last week to intervene in the dispute.
Addis Ababa followed suit and complained about Cairo, while Khartoum expressed concerns to the United Nations about the unilateral filling of Ethiopia without a comprehensive contract being signed.
Cairo fears that the dam will severely affect its Nile water supply, which covers almost 97 percent of the country's fresh water needs.
According to Ethiopia, the dam is essential for its electrification and development needs.
The Nile is a lifeline that provides both water and electricity to the 10 countries through which it winds.

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