Ethiopia rejects Arab League ‘resolution’ endorsing Egypt on Nile waters

Saturday March 7 2020

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia on September 26, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
By MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
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The Ethiopian government has rejected the decision by the Arab League to endorse Egypt’s position on the Nile waters, even though Addis Ababa commended Sudan for refusing to append its signature on the document.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry on Friday said the statement by the Arab league on the Renaissance Dam “provides support to a member state without looking at the main facts that are taking place…”

At the end of their regular session last week, Foreign Ministers from the Arab League said on Wednesday they support Cairo's position in its negotiations with Addis Ababa on the Renaissance Dam and rejected any unilateral measures that Ethiopia might take in this regard.

Egypt has demanded assurances from Ethiopia that the multibillion dollar dam on the Nile will not affect the amount of water reaching downstream will be maintained even as the dam is used for agriculture and electricity generation.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-general of the bloc that brings together states mostly from the Gulf and North Africa, at the end of the 153rd session of the Arab League Council said the League rejects any unilateral decision by Ethiopia that would affect Egypt’s share of the water.

The statement said the League “stresses the need for Ethiopia to adhere to the principles of international law, and welcomes the agreement to fill the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam prepared by the American Administration...and affirms that the draft agreement proposed by the United States and the World Bank is fair and serves the interests of the three countries.”

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Since November, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating on ways of filling the dam while retaining flow to the downstream rivers.

The negotiations mediated by the US and the World Bank (which funded the project), however, appeared to hit bumps last week after Ethiopia rejected the deal fronted by the US. Egypt initialled on the agreement, which in diplomatic terms means it has completed negotiations.

Addis rejected the proposal and accused the US of rushing the deal. Ethiopia’s negotiators had skipped the meeting in Washington, calling for more time.

On the Arab League, Sudan which is a member refused to endorse the communique, saying it had reservations. The communique arose from a draft resolution by Egypt which asked members to express solidarity with Cairo on the matter.

Sudan refused to endorse it, saying it was not in its national interest as it had been limited to protect Egypt’s water rights only.
Addis Ababa said Khartoum’s refusal to endorse the statement was an important signal that Sudan supports an amicable solution on the matter.

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