Ethiopia: Dam Talks Resume After Trump's 'Irresponsible' Remarks

An aerial photo of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
27 October 2020

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan's negotiations on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) are due to resume on Tuesday following a suspension for nearly one month.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the African Union (AU), made the announcement in s statement on Monday, saying it following extensive consultations with Prime Ministers Abiy Ahmed (Ethiopia) and Abdalla Hamdok (Sudan) as well as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The chair commended the three leaders on their commitment to the talks, which he said is guided by the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and compromise with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

"The resumption of the negotiations is indicative of the strong political will and commitment by the leadership of the three parties to the peaceful and amicable resolution of the GERD matte," he said.

"It is a reaffirmation of the confidence that the parties have in an African-led process in line with the Pan-African maxim of African solutions to African problems, one of the cornerstones of the African Union."

AU support

President Ramaphosa reassured the three countries of the AU's unremitting support and cooperation, and expressed "utmost confidence" that they will reach an agreement on outstanding issues, including those related to technical and legal matters.

"Without any doubt, the successful conclusion of the GERD negotiations will enhance and accelerate regional integration while boosting cooperation and sustainable development in the region, for the benefit of Africa as a whole" he said, stressing that the African Union would remain seized of the GERD matter.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday announced that the dam talks will be held in a manner that respects Ethiopia's national interests and rights.

It said it hopes the negotiations will be held in accordance with the direction set by the three countries' leaders and added that Ethiopia is keen to make the talks a success.

Trump's anger

The AU's announcement came days after US President Donald Trump voiced anger at Ethiopia and suggested Egypt would blow up the dam said to cost $4.8 billion, money which was raised by the Ethiopian public.

The State Department in September said it was cutting off aid to Ethiopia due to its decision to begin filling the dam despite not reaching an agreement with the downstream nations.

President Trump's remarks outraged parties including Ethiopia, which termed them "irresponsible" and an "instigator of war". Ethiopia summoned the US ambassador for an explanation.

In his reaction, Republican Congressman Jason Crown said, "The US must act as an honest broker to ensure a sustainable and diplomatic settlement. "

"The President's comments on GERD are reckless and uninformed," he added, saying his speech did not take into account the dam's future.

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