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Ethiopia responds to Egypt’s diplomatic campaign,draft a new agreement 

Egypt mobilized Arab League against Ethiopia. All but Sudan supported Egypt. Ethiopia is now responding to it; campaigning in Africa and Europe to explain its equitable use of the Nile water principle

Ethiopia _ Egypt _ diplomacy _ Nile
Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. Photo source : MFAE

March 13, 2020

US-brokered negotiation between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt regarding the filing and operation of the Ethiopian Dam ended with no result in February 2020.  

Egypt accuses Ethiopia of intention to control the Nile Water. Ethiopia says that its interest is equitable use of the resource and that it is Egypt that is intending to control the Nile. 

The two countries are on different pages not just on some issues regarding the filling and operation of the Dam but in their understanding of the agreement itself. For Ethiopia, the negotiation is just about the filling and operation of the Grand Renaissance Dam. Egypt wants to negotiate the entire Nile river, and the basis of negotiation for Egypt is rooted in colonial Africa. Egypt claims “historical right.” 

Ethiopia says the only way forward is “equitable use of the Nile water,” by all Nile riparian countries. Sudan, a lower riparian state, like Egypt, has already completed its assessment of the impact of the Dam and concluded that it does not harm its national interests. For Sudan, the Dam ensures a regular and non-fluctuating flow of water, avoids major flooding in Sudan during rainy seasons, and also generates electric power that could be used in Sudan as the Dam is only in 20 Kilometers distance from the Sudanese Border. 

Sudan reflects its support for the equitable use of the Nile water when it declines to put its name in the list of countries of Arab League member states who supported Egypt. 

In the aftermath of the Arab League meeting in Cairo, Egypt embarked on a diplomatic campaign in the Gulf countries and Europe.

Ethiopia says Egypt is misrepresenting Ethiopia’s position, which is an equitable use of the Nile, 86 percent of which originates from Ethiopia.    

Accordingly, Ethiopia launched its diplomatic campaign in Africa and Europe to explain its position.  

President Sahle-Work Zewde traveled to Kenya on Thursday this week to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta. She explained Ethiopia’s position regarding the Nile. Kenya is part of the Cooperative Framework Agreement, which was signed in 2010,  that outlines the principles, rights, and Obligations for cooperative management and development of the Nile basin. 

On Friday, Sahle-Work traveled to Uganda to meet with President Yoweri Museveni.  She briefed the Ugandan President regarding the negotiation on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  Uganda is not only part of the CFA agreement, but also it has ratified it. According to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. President Museveni reiterated a firm stand on the importance of “ensuring the equitable and sustainable use of the River Nile waters,”  which aligns very well with the Ethiopian position. 

President Museveni stressed the need to convene a Summit of the Nile Basin Commission for a “frank discussion on the issues of the Nile.” 

Ethiopia has also started its diplomatic campaign in Europe. Former president Mulatu Teshome led a delegation to meet with European Union President, leaders of France, and other members of the European Union. 

After the diplomatic campaign in Europe, Ethiopia is planning to send another diplomatic team to North America to explain Ethiopia’s clear stand on the Dam. 

Ethiopia was disappointed by the Statement from the US Department of The Treasury on February 28, which warned Ethiopia not to fill the Dam before signing an agreement. 

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