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Ethiopian opposition sees GERD as unifying factor

Ethiopia has several dozens of opposition parties some of whom with irreconcilable political agenda but their position in relation to Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a different story

GERD _ Ethiopian opposition

June 1, 2020

With 73.7 percent of the construction completed, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is perhaps the only issue that is uniting Ethiopians. Opposition parties (the government calls them “competing parties) are not exceptions when it comes to GERD. 

Last week, the Council of Ethiopian Political parties and the National Public Participation Coordinating Council had a conference. GERD was the talking point.

Ethiopian News Agency cited Musa Adem, who is the chairperson of the Council of Ethiopian Political parties, as saying

 “…The dam will cement the political and social integration of the country beyond generating power.”

Sovereignty and freedom have been top issues that have shaped Ethiopia’s national policies for ages. GERD is seen in that light. And that is what Musa Adem emphasized in his speech at the conference.  “GERD has been a symbol of unity and sovereignty. It is high on our list of priority,” he said.

The conference was attended by top Ethiopian government officials who have been part of the GERD negotiation. Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew and Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Sileshi Bekele updated participants of the conference regarding the status of the construction and negotiations with Egypt and Sudan.

Gedu informed participants about something that they are not strangers to. He said that Ethiopia will not accept a colonial treaty or any treaty that does not accept Ethiopia’s right to develop.

Gedu reaffirmed Ethiopia’s stand not be governed by a colonial treaty and legacy that denies its rights against the right to develop its water resource on the Nile River.

Ethiopia’s position is equitable utilization of the water resource – and it is “imperative” that all political parties in the country support that position.

Commitment to GERD is demonstrated, among other things, in the form of financial contribution. Unlike many other projects in the country, the project is funded by the Ethiopian people in the form of financial contributions.  This year alone, over 605 million Ethiopian birr is collected from Ethiopians locally. A total of 13.54 billion Ethiopian birr is collected since the project was launched, according to a report by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC)

Ethiopia intends to fill the dam starting July of this year as the construction needed to fill the first phase of water filling is completed. Ethiopia’s position is that filling the first phase of the dam is not against international law.

Egypt has expressed willingness to return to tripartite negotiation with Ethiopia and Sudan after the latter agreed to continue the discussion of technical matters months after the US-brokered Washington negotiation was stalled. While Ethiopia is standing on the ground that the basic principle is equitable use of the Nile water, it is arguing that the negotiation has to focus on GERD, not the entire Nile River. Ethiopia’s argument is that all Nile riparian countries need to be part of the negotiation if the talk is about the Nile River.

It is unclear, however, as to when the three countries are resuming the tripartite negotiation.

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