Egypt wants to control the Nile river, says Ethiopia

The way Egypt behaves regarding the Ethiopian dam got Ethiopians talking as the country was celebrating the 124th anniversary of Adwa victory.Negotiators on the part of Ethiopia say”Egypt wants to control the Nile river

Egypt _ Ethiopia _ Dam
The press statement in the office of the prime minister. Photo credit : EBC

March 3, 2020

As Ethiopia celebrated the 124th anniversary of the victory of Adwa over the Italian Colonial army, the mood across the country was special.

What makes it so is that it was celebrated after Ethiopians learned about the statement from the United States of America regarding the operation and filling of Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam – a statement that infuriated Ethiopians across the country.

The government has issued an official statement on February 29, expressing that it is “disappointed” with the statement from the Department of Treasury of the United States of America.  

Ethiopia did not take part in the last round of the negotiation that took place in Washington between February 27 and 28.  It is because Ethiopia was preoccupied with engaging stakeholders locally.

However, the United States, joined the negotiation as an “observer” and mainly with an invitation from Egypt, did not seem to like that Ethiopia was unable to attend the last event.

Furthermore, the U.S.’ statement has a tone of ordering Ethiopia not to start filling the Dam without signing the agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

On Tuesday, March 3, 2020, members of the Ethiopian negotiating team, Seleshi Bekele (Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy ) and Gedu Andargachew (Minister of Foreign Affairs),  had a press statement in the office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

The message underscored is that the Dam is necessary for the existence of  Ethiopia and that it is part of the struggle that the country is making to get out of poverty.

“Ethiopia will not sign any agreement regarding its own dam under the pressure from external power,” the team told journalists.

However, said the team members, there has been negotiation with lower riparian countries of the Nile river with the understanding that the Nile is an international river, although more than 86 percent of the water originates from Ethiopia.

The United States has been mediating Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan regarding their difference on the Ethiopian Dam,  said the negotiating team.

While noting the positive roles the U.S. played in the past in the negotiation, the team explicitly criticized that the former made a mistake to take a stand as a government forgetting its mediator role. However, Ged expressed his hope that the U.S. will reconsider its position.

The project that Ethiopia is undertaking with its resources said Gedu Andargachew, in a way that does not affect the interests of the lower riparian countries.

Gedu also said that “Sudan as a country has a strong stand that the Ethiopian Dam is relevant and that it does not have an interest in controlling the waters of Abay, but Egypt has the interest to control it.”

Despite interest on the part of Egypt and the USA for swift completion of the negotiation, Ethiopia does not believe rushing to sign the negotiation, the team stated.

Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, on his part, said that Ethiopia as a country from which over 86 percent of the Nile water originates from, it needs to be beneficiary from the water. Ethiopia is a sovereign country and that no state should infringe on her rights to use from the water is the position.

Meanwhile, Egypt accused Ethiopia of conspiracies and said that it is ready to “face it,” according to Ahram online’s report published on March 2. Egypt still claims its “historical right” over the Nile. The latest agreement that Egypt bases his claim is the 1959 agreement between The United Arab Republic (that was the political union of Egypt and Syria) and Sudan. Ethiopia was not a party to the agreement.

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