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Ethiopia Pushes for African Role in Renaissance Dam Dispute

Ethiopia Pushes for African Role in Renaissance Dam Dispute

Monday, 23 March, 2020 - 07:15
The Grand Renaissance Dam hydroelectric project in Ethiopia. AFP file photo

The stalled negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has caused growing tension between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa is looking for an African Union role to solve the GERD dispute after rejecting the US mediation and accusing Washington of bias, while Egypt continues to blame Ethiopia for the failure in achieving progress in the negotiations.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had expected to sign an agreement in Washington last month, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialed the deal thus far.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now wants to revive a previous proposal to ask South Africa’s president - as the incoming chair of the African Union (AU) - to intervene in the dispute with Egypt.

Some Ethiopian security experts urged the AU on Sunday to assume its responsibilities and back a solution in the stalled negotiations.

In January, Cairo ignored Ahmed’s proposal, attaching hopes on negotiations between the three Nile basin countries through the mediation of the US and the World Bank.

Training coordinator at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Meressa Dessu told the Ethiopian news agency on Sunday that AU’s role is important to solve disputes in the continent.

“The Nile dispute is an African problem. It affects more than 10 African Union member states and this proves that the Union should be responsible to solve issues related to the Nile,” she said.

On March 5, the Arab League Council voiced rejection of any infringement on Egypt’s historical rights to the waters of the Nile River.

Disso described the League’s statement concerning the dam as biased because it ignored Ethiopia’s rights.

Another researcher at the ISS, Dawit Yohannes, said that the dam dispute might have deep repercussions on peace and security in the region.

“This is why the African Union should participate in solving such conflicts in the continent,” Yohannes added.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has delivered messages from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to several regional, African and European leaders as part of Cairo’s efforts to press its case in the dispute with Ethiopia.

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