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News: GERD progressing well, won’t hurt downstream countries: MoFA

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Ambassador Dina Mufti. Picture: MoFA

Addis Abeba, – The construction of the Great Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) is progressing well and will not hurt the downstream countries, Ambassador Dina Mufti, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in his biweekly press briefing today.

The Spokesperson’s reaction was in response to news that Egypt wrote a letter to the current President of the United Nations Security Council, Vassily Nebenzia, rejecting Ethiopia’s commencement of the operations of GERD and complained that the act lacks legal binding agreement with downstream countries that amounted the breach of the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015.  

On 20 February Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed officially announced the beginning of power generation from the first turbine of the GERD which will produce 375 MW. “This is good news for our continent and the downstream countries with whom we aspire to work together,” Pm Abiy said during the inauguration ceremony.

“Once Sudan’s internal problems are handled, the African led riparian negotiation will continue,”

Ambassador Dina Mufti

Ambassador Dina underscored that Ethiopia will only use the project for generating electricity and economic development and has no intention of harming the downstream countries in today’s briefing. He further clarified that Ethiopia would not stop its GERD project on the Nile and the two riparian countries, Egypt and Sudan, are always welcome to peaceful negotiation. “Once Sudan’s internal problems are handled, the African led riparian negotiation will continue,” the spokesperson stated.   

On Ethiopians Stranded in Saudi Arabia

In the briefing today, ambassador Dina Mufti stated that the Ethiopian government is gravely concerned over the stranded citizens of Ethiopians that are languishing in Saudi Arabian detentions and their situation would be addressed in a serious manner.  

The spokesperson stated that a National Committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, was established and details of implementation on the repatriations of the citizens are underway.

In his last parliamentary speech, Abiy Ahmed stated that the repatriation of the stranded citizens from  Saudi Arabia should be operated with caution and their citizenship should be verified if they really were Ethiopians. “Reports indicated that there are trained assassins, and their number is in the hundreds of thousands which needs to be handled carefully”he said. 

Responding to Addis Standard if the government set plans on identifying ‘criminals’ and ‘assassins’ when repatriating prisoners from Saudi Arabia, ambassador Dina stated that the Ethiopian government would be engaged in filtering and evaluating issues in regard to security, citizenship and identity. “Once all these scrutiny and filtering are done, the repatriation process will start,” he said, without further elaborating the details.

A recent investigation by Addis Standard into the conditions of Ethiopians detained in Saudi Arabia’s prisons revealed that the crackdown of the Saudi government on illegal migrants has mainly targeted Ethiopians.

Ambassador Dina also discussed the U.S. House bipartisan bill Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act, or H.R. 6600. “The Act is on the floor of the Congress and we will see how it evolves but it does not help the interests of the two countries,” adding, “Ethiopia has always opened its door for peace talks,” he said. AS

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