Ethiopia firm on its stand in reversing water monopoly over the Nile river by lower riparian countries – Egypt and Sudan
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan returned this past weekend to negotiation over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) months after it was stalled.
It was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the auspices of the African Union whose Chairperson is Felix Tshisekedi, who is also president of DRC.
Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment for the completion of the negotiation under the AU led processes, and also underscored the rights of all riparian countries to use water and the need for cooperation. Ethiopia’s had been opposing the self-claimed water shares by Egypt and Sudan which gives Ethiopia Zero water share more than 85 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia. In other words, Ethiopia had been rejecting total monopoly over the use of the water.
As it turns out, the three countries failed to reach an agreement again. This time the difference was over the role of observers in the negotiation, not about the operation or filling of the dam.
Why the negotiation faltered again
Having reviewed the progress of the negotiation, the meeting in Kinshasa, which was opened by a speech from AU Chairperson and president of DCR, Felix Tshisekedi, discussed the role of observers – namely the Republic of South Africa, the United States of America and the European Union.
Egypt and Sudan wanted the observers to be given the same role as the African Union. On the other hand, Ethiopia expressed its resolve to maintain negotiating process ownership with only the three negotiating countries and the African Union.
However, Ethiopia agreed, as disclosed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , to elevate the role of the observers to a point where they are allowed to share information regarding the negotiation and provide proposals but only when jointly solicited by three countries.
“The approach by Egypt and Sudan [to change the role of observers] undermines the African Union led process and takes the issue out of African platform,” Ethiopia argued as disclosed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
The AU chairperson submitted a draft communiqué after the two days of Kinshasa meeting which Ethiopia accepted with a minor change.
Egypt and Sudan rejected the communiqué as they saw that the role of the observers is not altered to the point of owning the process.
The difference between the three countries over GERD negotiation means that the Dam talk is stalled again.
Egypt has been threatening to make the entire region unimaginably unstable if “a drop of Egypt’s water is taken.” Egypt claims to have a “historical right” over the Nile river – near monopoly as the riparian countries in the upper course of the river have been using zero water.
Egypt and Sudan were also threatening to take action if Ethiopia is undertaking the second phase of dam filling without a binding agreement over the Nile.
Ethiopia’s stand in that regard is that it is only negotiating the filling and operation of the dam, not the use of the entire Nile river.
Ethiopia says second phase of GERD filling will happen
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said that the second filling of the Dam will take place as scheduled. For Ethiopia, there is nothing in the Declaration of Principle (DoP), which was signed in 2015, that will not allow Ethiopia not to fill GERD in a way that observes international law on transboundary water resources.
“The second-year filling of the GERD will be carried out as scheduled pursuant to the Declaration of Principles (DoP). In this context, Ethiopia expressed its readiness to facilitate data and information exchange on the filling of the dam. The positions contesting the filling of the dam ahead of the conclusion of an agreement has no basis in law and contravenes Ethiopia’s inherent right to utilize its natural resource, ” said the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena