Ethiopia, Egypt unable to come up with mutually agreeable legal document

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are expected to sign agreement on the operation and filling of the Ethiopian dam by the end of this month. But no agreeable legal document so far.

Ethiopia, Egypt , Sudan
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project / File

February 11, 2020

Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have been preparing a detailed legal document on the filling and operation of the Ethiopian dam.

All the parties to the negotiation evaluated the legal document for a week. And there was a consultation on several issues related to the objective of the mediated talks.  

However, no agreement is reached. Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega, disclosed on his social media page on Monday the negotiating parties (Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan) could not jointly prepare a document that all parties could accept without any problem.

While stating that Ethiopia believes in equitable and fair use of the water, he underscores that Ethiopia will not sign any agreement that will compromise its right to use the Nile River.

Ethiopia’s Minister for Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, arrived in the United States on Monday. His first business was to “review results so far by the legal and technical teams of Ethiopia negotiating with Egypt and Sudan on GERD. Number of articles and issues are not yet resolved…”  But the result is one that the Ethiopian Ambassador in the US revealed. No agreeable document.

The foreign affairs and water ministers from the three countries are meeting again on Wednesday, this week, in Washington. It is a follow-up meeting. US secretary of Treasury and the World Bank are attending the meeting, as was the case in the past few months, as “observers.

Extremely alarmed about the ongoing negotiation, most Ethiopians believe that Donald Trump’s administration has been putting immense pressure on Ethiopia via the World Bank and The US Treasury Department.  

Activists, concerned Ethiopians, and opposition party leaders are warning the Ethiopian government not to sign an agreement regarding the Nile river as they believe that the talk should be focused on the Ethiopian dam.

In a forum organized by the Institute of Strategic Affairs, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Water and Energy Minister, assured Ethiopians Ethiopia would not sign the agreement if a single word in the legal document compromises Ethiopian sovereignty and national interest.  

He reiterated his position in a twitter message on Monday:  “…We, the Ethiopian team, continue to work vigilantly in advancing our national interest.”

Egypt seeks to place the responsibility to provide water during an extended dry season and drought situation on the Ethiopian shoulder – and this is something that Ethiopians are opposing. They argue that Ethiopia does not have any water debt to Egypt.

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