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News: Ethiopia hails diplomatic success as UNSC favors AU-Led negotiations

Eng Seleshi Bekele (PhD) Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy
Photo: Official Twitter Account of the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations

By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan 

Addis Abeba, July 10/2021 – UN Security (UNSC) Council members in a session yesterday, backed the African Union (AU) sponsored talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in a dispute over the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and urged the parties to resume talks under the umbrella of the AU. 

Egypt and Sudan both called on the UNSC to help resolve the dispute after Ethiopia earlier this week began filling the GERD reservoir for a second year. Ethiopia remains opposed to any involvement outside the AU initaitvie.

Yesterday, Tunisia, the outgoing non-permanent member of the African Group at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has submitted a proposal to the 15-member states SC requesting a binding agreement on Ethiopia’s mega dam, the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam, within the next six months, and urging ” Ethiopia to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill the GERD reservoir.” 

Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE), Seleshi Bekele said on the issue of GERD at the United Nations Security Council session, “We’re dealing with a hydroelectric dam project, which is not the first of its kind in the world. We are building a reservoir to store water that will generate electricity by hitting turbines. For context, GERD reservoir is two and half times smaller than that of the Aswan Dam.” 

The minister added, “What distinguishes GERD from other projects is the extent of hope and aspiration it generated for 65 millions Ethiopians that have no access to electricity. It’s also unique because the construction of the Dam is financed by the blood, tears, and sweat of ordinary Ethiopians.”

The minister went to explain the importance of GERD for Ethiopia’s development, offered details about the nature of the dispute and urged Egypt and Sudan to come to the negotiation table under the umbrella of the AU. The minister concluded his remarks by saying, “The Nile belongs to all the half billion people in the 11 riparian countries. The water is enough for all of us. Ethiopia generates 77 billion meter cube of water per year. It is only fair that we impound a small fraction of the annual inflow for its hydroelectric Dam. We urge our Egyptian and Sudanese neighbors to understand that a resolution to the Nile issue won’t come from the Security Council; it can only come from good faith negotiations under the auspices of the AU with due care for the wellbeing and development of each Other.” 

After the session, Sameh Shoukry said, “Measures taken unilaterally by Ethiopia, by starting the second filling of the Renaissance Dam without an agreement with the downstream countries, represent a threat to the sovereignty of Egypt and Sudan and an existential threat to more than 150 million people,” adding to comments he made yesterday, that the issue of the nile is a matter of survival and that Egypt will be forced to protect its own survival. 

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) bi-weekly presser, Spokesperson Ambassador Dina Mufti said “The achievement made at the UNSC meeting would reinforce the African Union (AU) -led tripartite negotiation on GERD to resolve the dispute between the countries.”  Ambassador Dina explained that despite efforts made by Egypt and Sudan to take the issue of the dam to UNSC, the council has brought it back to the AU. He concluded by adding, “This could be taken as a grand achievement for Ethiopia and the entire people of the country.” AS

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