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GERD Talks in Doubt Following Unrest in Ethiopia

GERD Talks in Doubt Following Unrest in Ethiopia

Tuesday, 10 November, 2020 - 11:00
Ethiopian army soldiers heading on a mission in the Amhara region near the border with the Tigray region, which Addis Ababa accuses of seeking secession. (Reuters)

Internal conflicts in Ethiopia have cast a shadow over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dams negotiations with Egypt and Sudan, amid fears of further delays of the AU-sponsored talks.

This comes as the war in Tigray region has caused a crack in the foundation of the ruling Ethiopian coalition led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Last weekend, the Ethiopian army announced the war on the northern region following an attack by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on a federal military base in the area.

According to observers, the army’s military intervention, which left dozens of casualties, threatens to spark a wide civil war in the country.

Ahmed, however, has been seeking to reassure citizens by tweeting that Ethiopia is grateful to its friends who expressed concern.

“Fears of Ethiopia’s sliding into chaos are baseless and come as a result of a lack of understanding of our conditions.”

Dr. Hani Raslan, an expert on African affairs at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, has expected the fighting to expand.

Abiy, who won 2019’s Nobel Peace Prize, has sacked prominent political figures in an attempt to control the situation. These include the army chief of staff, director of the intelligence service and the foreign minister, who was leading the GERD talks.

The unrest in Ethiopia is expected to affect the completion of GERD project, which Addis Ababa has been constructing since 2011 on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile water, and raises tensions with Egypt and Sudan.

Rislan told Asharq Al-Awsat that if the fighting continues, there will be no strong authority that can attain the political and strategic objectives of the dam.

Since July, the three countries have been in negotiations, hoping to reach an agreement over filling and operating the GERD.

Negotiations were suspended at the end of last August due to technical and legal disputes.

Egypt and Sudan fear that this will affect their shares in the Nile waters and stress the need to reach a binding agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of the three countries, and includes a mechanism for settling disputes.

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