Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Borrell encourages Millenium dam negociated solution

The dispute between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over exploitation of the Millenium Dam is a “matter of stablity” in the region, said the top EU diplomat Josep Borrell while commenting on the situation developing this week in the Horn of Africa.

“… We are following closely the talks, which were facilitated by the United States, and we regret they were not able to solve, or bring any kind of solution, but there are talks facilitated by the United States, and we are not part of this facilitating activity.

“We would be happy to participate if we are called for, but it is not the case, but we are ready to contribute to appease the situation, and to find a pragmatic solution”.

“I have been talking last week with all parties”, – Borrell continued. “And I strongly encourage them to continue the commonly agreed way forward”.

The diplomacy chief also announced plans to organise EU-Sudan partnership conference in Brussels together with Germany, the United Nations on June 22.

“It will be an opportunity for the international community to recall and renew their support to the ongoing political transition in Sudan” Borrell continued, expressing hope that there would be also “concrete pledges”.

Ethiopia Millenium Dam causes tensions

Government of Sudan rejected Ethiopia’s proposal to sign an initial agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and now expressed readiness to resume U.S.-led talks on the project.

According to a statement on May 12, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok sent a letter to his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed disapproving of an Addis Ababa proposal on an agreement over the dam’s first filling water, which is a crucial issue for agriculture in Sudan and Egypt, risking to lose up to 50% of arable land due to lack of irrigation.

Any signing of a partial agreement for the first filling could not be approved due to “technical and legal aspects that should be included in the agreement,” Hamdok said.

The agreement must incorporate a mechanism of coordination, an exchange of information and the safety of the dam and its environmental and social impacts, he insisted.

Prime minister of Sudan stressed that the path to reach a comprehensive agreement is an immediate resumption of negotiations which he underlined experienced a significant progress in the last four months.

Sudan believes that the current circumstances do not allow for talks through normal diplomatic channels, he said, in reference to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that teleconferences are suitable means to complete negotiations and agree on outstanding issues.

Lead Sudanese negotiator Saleh Hamad said that most of the issues being negotiated are inextricably linked, not only to the first filling but to all phases of filling.

The statement on May 12 comes a day after Ethiopia announced it is to start filling its mega-dam in July, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan as they stand by a 2015 declaration that stipulates an agreement on the guidelines governing the filling and annual operation of the dam should be reached.

Director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies Khaled Okasha said the Sudanese move brings the matter to its proper path, which relies on cooperation and negotiation.

Mr.Okasha explained that Ethiopia took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to cancel all agreements, and according to point zero it was announced through its “populist” mechanisms that it pursued from the beginning.

Okasha has affirmed that the move by the Sudanese Prime Minister came after Ethiopia’s intentions to go on with the project solely without consulting with Khartoum and Cairo became clear, threatening the interests of both countries.

This is in addition to the dangers related to the safety requirements of the dam, which the Ethiopian side has been ignoring, constantly pushing for the filling stage with an aim to aid internal and political conflicts through the construction of the dam, completely disregarding the sovereignty and authentic rights of Egypt and Sudan.

He added that Ethiopia is also seeking from this to blame the issue on both Cairo and Khartoum, according to flawed and outdated Ethiopian theories that claim disagreements between Egypt and Sudan.

Okasha further stressed that the new Sudanese government is now correcting many of the faults of the previous regime, which had been performing in contradiction with the Sudanese national interests.

Neighbouring Sudan and Egypt dependent on Nile flow fear the dam will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir starts being filled in July as planned.

Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.

The dispute is over the Millenium Dam being built on the Blue Nile. Ethiopia announced it will begin part filling it in July this year in order to test two turbines next year during the rainy season. The dam is 71% complete and when finished in 2023 will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa providing much needed power to the second populous country on continent with 100 million inhabitants.

The reservoir will be able to hold more than 70 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water, but Egypt says if it operates according to Ethiopian intentions, 100 million Egyptians will then be deprived of much of their lifeline – the waters of the river.

EU committed to stablity of Ethiopia

“The EU is a committed and reliable partner of Ethiopia, and we attach great importance to the stability and unity of the country, which is crucial for the whole of Horn of Africa the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, commenting on the recent political events in the country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7 the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali made an announcement that the ruling party will stay in charge until next elections, while the election calendar was postponed due to sanitary conditions, and Tigray region refused to follow.

Africa’s second most populous (115M) country was due to hold national elections in August 29, and the incumbent Prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali hoped would give him a mandate for wide-ranging political and economic reforms people are awaiting for long.

However the election board announced in late March that it would be impossible to organise the polls on time because of the pandemic.

The EU have been following closely the recent political developments in the country, and has “taken note” of the swift decision of the House of People’s Representatives to ask the Constitutional explanations of the postponement of the elections, the EEAS spokesperson ensured.

“We encourage and support the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of all political parties at federal and regional level in order to organise the next elections in a coordinated way” the spokesperson of the EU diplomacy continued. She also underlined that the EU intended to deploy the EU Election observation mission (EUEOM) for the general elections, “in this context we pay special attention to the conditions of the organisation of elections throughout the electoral process”.

The events in Tigray region became a matter of concern after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to conduct elextions in Tigray region despite of the federal government decision of postponemet. In relation to this decision of Tigray region leading political force the EU diplomacy “have taken note of the declaration of the Tigray’s People Liberation Front (TPLF) to hold elections in the region, the EU delegation of the ground in Addis Abeba has regular contacts with TPLF, and is seeking the clarifications on this declaration” the spokesperson underlined.

The EU diplomacy is also fully aware that the decision to hold regional elections separately from the general election has been debated in the country by legal and constiutuional experts, and the “European Union is encouraging and supporting the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of political parties of both level – national and regional” the spokesperson underlined.

Citing the CVOID-19 pandemic as the reason for the calendar change, last month on March 31 the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed indefinitely the legislative elections scheduled for August 29. The supporters of the decision, mostly from the incumbent government, have expressed consent, while the opposition condemned the decision defining it as a “power-grab“. They also indicated that the later date would not take into account poor rain season weather conditions and agricultural activities, complicating electoral campaign.

Tigray region elections controversy

Ethiopia’s Tigray region plans to hold elections, its leading party announced, setting it on a collision course with the federal government in Addis Ababa and imposing strain on the country’s fragile unity.

On May 4 the Executive Committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has passed a decision to hold the upcoming elections at the regional level after the decision of the election board to postpone the elections “indefinitely” the context of the pandemic.

The end of March Ethiopian electoral board postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August 29 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. A new date has yet to be set but the opposition has already questioned the move.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said it would proceed with elections in Tigray region despite the nationwide postponement of voting due to COVID-19.

We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Addis Alem Balema, an expert and a prominent Tigray politician has criticised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in connection with the change of the election schedule.

Government was working half-heartedly on the next election. Now the Coronavirus complicated it,” the expert said.  Moreover, he criticized Prime minister’s administration pointing that the rule of law in the country is “messy“.

Concerning the strategy to address the situation, Alem Balema added the measures to be taken need to ensure the “rights of nations and nationalities, and foster the federal system.” 

Consultation has to continue and the upcoming election has to be free, fair, and credible” he added.

Borrell heads to Darfur

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell will travel to Ethiopia on February 27 to attend the 10th meeting of the African Union – European Union. His visit will continue with bilateral discussions with Ethiopian authorities on Friday, 28 February. Further he will then travel to Sudan, on Saturday, 29 February and Sunday, 1st March.

On Friday, Feburary 27 Borrell will meet the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed to reiterate the EU’s support to his political and economic reform agenda. He will also visit an EU-funded project that aims at Stemming Irregular Migration in Northern and Central Ethiopia (SINCE), as part of the EU’s concrete support in addressing economic and social challenges in the country.

On Saturday Borrell will travel to Sudan, where he is going to meet Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the Chairman of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan. There the EU dilomat will bring a message of support to the civilian transition. He will deliver a speech at the University of Khartoum, and meet with Foreign Ministers from member countries of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). On Sunday Borrell will visit a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Darfur.

Michel addresses AU Summit

Speech by President of the European Union Council Charles Michel at the official dinner of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa:

“It is an honour and privilege for me to take the floor as the voice of Europe before you, in Ethiopia, the land of origins and the cradle of the last Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations again dear Abiy Ahmed.

It is with deep pleasure that I return to this continent, for which I have so much affection.

I am here today to bear witness to a metamorphosis of this continent but also that of Europe.

Your northern neighbour is changing. I am here tonight to speak for 27 European countries. 22 of them never had any colonies.

A new generation of leaders is coming to power. They are not hampered by the burden of nostalgia.

We want to look towards the future, and to our neighbours. We want to tackle climate change and the digital revolution. The two major challenges we are all facing.

Europe wants to speak up on the international stage, where its values inspire its actions.

This changing Europe is looking at Africa with fresh eyes – with respect, optimism and confidence!

Africa is vibrant, full of the energy of youth and it is buzzing with new technology!

A continent of opportunities: that is what Europe sees.

For a long time, Europe remained trapped in an outdated view of this continent.

Africa, too, has at times cultivated a kind of ambiguity in its relationship with Europe.

Our closeness connects us, our partnership is a rich one. Everything draws us towards one another: history, geography, culture and the many exchanges between us.

Europe is your partner for trade, investment, cooperation and development. But this partnership is no longer enough; it needs to be reinvented. We must build a new house to accommodate our many common interests, and we must write a new chapter together”.

Ramaphosa chairs African Union

President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially assumed chairmanship of the African Union at the 33rd summit of heads of state and government at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This will be the second time South Africa holds chairmanship of the continental body after first doing so in 2002 when the African Union succeeded the Organisation of African Unity, the Presidency said in a statement.

Cyril Ramaphosa began his mandate vowing to end the conflict in Libya and the Sahel region and to tackle world powers fuelling wars on the continent.

Addressing the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on Feburary 9 afternoon, Ramaphosa pledged solidarity with the people of Palestine and Western Sahara.

“We must also deal with the actions of other countries outside our continent that are fighting proxy wars and fuelling the ongoing conflicts,” Ramaphosa said.

“Today we reaffirm our unwavering support and solidarity with the Palestinian people in their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State, as well as the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. We must ensure that our independence and freedom as the peoples of this continent should be universal,” he continued.

Ramaphosa said South Africa would host an extraordinary summit on silencing the guns in May. He also reiterated the Union solidarity with Western Sahara and Palestine.

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