Sudan rejects Ethiopian plan to fill huge dam a second time – senior official

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KHARTOUM, June 27 (Reuters)Sudan has turned down an Ethiopian proposal to administer the filling of a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile for the second time, a senior official said on Sunday, deepening a regional dispute over the project.

Ethiopia has pinned development and power generation hopes on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), while downstream Sudan is concerned about regulating inflows to its own dams and Egypt fears its water supply will be compromised.

Addis Ababa has announced that it will refill the reservoir behind the multi-billion dollar hydroelectric dam after the seasonal rains began this summer.

Sudan and Egypt sent letters last week calling on the UN Security Council to look into the matter. The talks brokered by the African Union, most recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have repeatedly stalled.

Sudan has also signaled that it is open to a partial interim deal before the reservoir is filled for a second time, subject to certain conditions.

However, on Sunday the senior Sudanese official said the Ethiopian proposal for the second fill was “not real” and a “way to buy time,” adding that any such proposal would come under the auspices of AU mediators and all parties should include.

On condition of anonymity, the official also said Ethiopia had imposed “impossible conditions” on water-sharing, which Sudan considers outside the scope of the negotiations.

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, additional reporting by Dawit Endeshaw, letter from Nafisa Eltahir; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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