Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ethiopia: Success of Negotiation Proves African Solution to African Problem Works
July 24, 2020

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia (and Former Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt), Dina Mufti said on Friday that the success of AU-led negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan is a success that supports the idea that it is possible to find an African solution to an African problem, Ethiopian News Agency reported.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the virtual negotiation between the heads of states of the three countries earlier this week, and the three countries have reached an agreement to continue technical negotiation on the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

The three countries were unable to reach an agreement during the United States brokered process in Washington DC. Ethiopia withdrew from it in February 2020 as the United States started to dictate the terms of the agreement forgetting that it was part of the negotiation as an “observer.”  As the US issued a statement warning Ethiopia not to start filling the dam before signing a deal with Egypt, Ethiopia abandoned the US-led negotiation entirely.  This week, Foreign Policy Magazine reported that the Trump administration is divided over policy response to Ethiopia’s refusal to sign an agreement that protects Egyptian national interest at the expense of Ethiopia. Cutting non-humanitarian aid to Ethiopia is among the policy options that the Trump administration might be considering, based on the report.

Egypt attempted to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council which Ethiopia protested saying that GERD is a development project and does not constitute a security threat to the region in any way.

Ethiopia sees the return of negotiation to Africa as a diplomatic success. Egypt, on the other hand, was primarily interested in US-brokered negotiation.

This week, Ethiopia announced that it has completed the first stage of filling of GERD which means that the reservoir has now 4.9 billion cubic meters of water which is said to be adequate to start generating power with two turbines. Ethiopia exploited heavy rainfall in the past two weeks to complete the first phase of filling.

The remaining required water is to be filled as the construction of the dam progresses. Currently, the dam is at 565 meters above sea level. 

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