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What the Ethiopian negotiators should pay attention in the upcoming GERD Negotiation (Tesfaye Tafesse Professor)

Ethiopian Negotiators _ GERD _ Tesfaye
Professor Tesfaye Tafesse

My views on the upcoming GERD Negotiation

Tesfaye Tafesse (Professor), Addis Ababa University, Center for African & Oriental Studies
May 24,2020

We heard about some three days ago on Egypt’s willingness to resume the tripartite talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. As an academic, I like to begin by speculating what prompted or forced the Egyptians to acquiesce to Sudan’s attempt to come back to the round-table. As to me, four reasons might have accounted for that: (a) the letters of concern from the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) and the European Union (EU) Chiefs on the GERD negotiation impasse and the way out, (b) a monumental letter written by the well-known American civil rights activist, Rev. Jesse Jackson, to the US Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) with copies to the UNSG, the President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the World Bank (WB) President and the US Secretary of the Treasury, (c) the defeat of Libyan warlord’s – Khalifa Haftar’s – forces that have a strong backing from Egypt at the hands of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and (d) the escalation of the Sinai insurgency in the eastern part of Egypt.  

Having said that, let me throw some suggestions on the possible resumption of the tripartite talks and what the Ethiopian negotiators should pay attention to:

  1. Ethiopia should stand its ground firmly as she did at the end of February 2020 by refusing to sign the biased and one-sided ‘Washington document’! Whatever transpires in and around the upcoming  tripartite talks, it should be framed within our firm and unflinching stands with due respect given to continuity par excellence;
  1. Based on the lessons that our negotiating team members have learned from some of the mistakes that were made in the past (e.g. the suicidal journey to the US), they should cautiously but surely proceed with the upcoming meetings;
  1. Any future negotiation on GERD shouldn’t fall prey to Egyptian machinations on which Ethiopia has no control. A good example for this is the clause(s) on mitigation mechanisms during dry periods and drought, forced and conditional release of water from Guba reservoir etc. If we fall prey to these Egyptian conditionality, GERD will literally become a hostage to Egypt in general and the High Aswan Dam (HAD) in particular;
  1. Given the stubbornness of Egyptians, we shouldn’t expect a consensual resolution anytime soon. The agreement on the resumption of talks could possibly be a time-buying ploy that is designed to delay the filling of the dam. They may come up with a compensation scheme in lieu of a delayed filling. Who knows what? Anything is possible on the Egyptian side. Hence, the first stage of the filling of the reservoir that spans a two-year period should by all means commence come next July with 4.9 bcm of water impoundment to be followed by testing the power plant in February 2021 and eventually the second impoundment of 13.5 bcm of water in summer 2021. So, at the end of the first filling of the reservoir, 18.4 bcm will be impounded at a height of 595 mts a.s.l.;
  1. We need to pursue our diplomatic efforts to bring Kenya and Burundi onboard to ratify the long-awaited Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). That will bring the desired proportion of signatories, i.e. two-thirds of the riparian states, to ratify the ten-year old CFA that is languishing at the Nile Secretariat in Entebbe, Uganda. It is incumbent upon us to mobilize skilled diplomats that could create enhanced awareness about the Nile throughout the world,
  1. We should always make sure that the GERD negotiation should stick only to the dam at Guba and not at all to the Abbay river! There is no way whatsoever to make any digression from this by talking about the Abbay or the Nile negotiation.

Following my humble suggestions that are jotted above, I am proposing to all concerned, namely the Ethiopian government, the Ethiopian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Water to write letters of thanks to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Prof. Almariam for the unheeded and vocal support they made to promote Ethiopia’s cause. Rev. Jesse Jackson was a real friend of Ethiopia and the black world indeed – he came to our rescue when we were alone and the world was swayed by the Egyptian propaganda. No matter what truth will always prevail! I don’t even shy away from proposing the two gentlemen to be invited at the time of the GERD inauguration for ribbon cutting!

The writer could be reached via the following email address: tesfayeidr@yahoo.com

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  1. I support all the points stated by Professor and the negotiating body have to revise them to help him on his further negotiation. Beyond this the dispute has not to be considered to be going on between three negotiators Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. But it is between two negotiators. The first is Ethiopia the owner of GERD and the second is Egypt-Sudanes joint claimer of the flow on filling the water. And I think this can have impacts on the negotation. Therefore, the Egypt-Sudanes joint negotiator shoud not have more members than the Ethiopian negotiator. Subsequently both have to have equal power of vote on the negotiation.

  2. Thank you Prof Tesfaye.

    It was an absolute pleasure reading your article. You have expressed your views with eloquence and more importantly succinctly and with a clarity of thought and language. I have full confidence in the Ethiopian negotiators and I also hope they will take your valuable suggestions onboard. And thank you Borkena for inviting people like Prof Tesfaye to contribute.

  3. This is what we expect from our professors and politicians. You should write more over the issue. So that the rest of the world understand well our right and the Egyptian false propaganda.
    In addition our broadcasts should have at least a15 minute program all the day regarding Abbay and GERD.

  4. I sincerely appreciate the very bright viewpoint put forward by professor Tesfaye Tafesse above. In my opinion another outstanding point is our negotiators should very diligently be aware is lowering the American and the World bank so called mediators to simply a facilitators level and also adding African Union selected member country like South Africa, Rewanda, or Angola etc. Join the team. African Union countries are usually feared by Egypt. There is no reason why Egypt distance herself from Sister African countries!!. Egypt is absolutely not a decent country or trustworthy to strike a deal with. She is absolutely dishonest. Hence, Dr. Abiy and also our negotiating team currently poised for a turning point in history to prove themselves once again that they are holding keys to Ethiopia’ s new chapters. Egypt is currently making a historical mistake to threaten another sovereign country with military aggration she is absolutely dishonest and a rogue state!!!.

  5. Ethiopia is in danger from islamic fundamentalism than anything else, I’m saying this keeping in mind the subject of the nile. As it has been the agenda of the wise men of Cairo for centuries, make Ethiopia weak and decided and possibly subject to Islam, meaning a slave. Islam justifies violence and slavery in the name of ….
    Case in point Takele Uma!
    It’s a long term plan, slowly and surely
    The example of the frog which ……boiled in water without being aware of it.
    I believe the God of the universe has plan for our country and people.
    Let’s pray as did our people in times past for his intervention.

  6. Dear Prof Tesfaye, I really appreciate your concern and awareness creations in your letter for the direct team on this timely issue for Ethiopians.

  7. President Musevini’s answers to questions from an Egyptian journalist were purely siding Ethilopia and he should be praised. I have not heard these words from our officials.
    Egypt’s extravagant use of the Nile waters to the extent of passing to Saini and Israel should be disclosed in the negotiations. Egypt has to pay for the water it is using.


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