World Ethiopia PM says unrest will not derail filling of Nile dam
Ethiopia questions settlement in dam conflict with Sudan and Egypt
© EDUARDO SOTERAS In the dispute over the flooding of a gigantic Nile dam, Ethiopia has objected to an agreement announced by Egypt on Friday and announced within two weeks that the reservoir would be filled to start. In the dispute between the residents of the Nile over a gigantic dam, Ethiopia questioned an agreement announced by Egypt and announced that it would begin flooding the reservoir in the border area within two weeks.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Tuesday that recent domestic unrest would not derail his plan to start filling a mega-dam on the Blue Nile River this month, despite objections from downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.
Violence broke out last week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region following the shooting death of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia's largest.
Sudan says talks on Nile dam resumed with Egypt, Ethiopia
Sudan announced Friday the resumption of talks with Egypt and Ethiopia to resolve the long-running dispute over Addis Ababa's construction of a mega-dam on the Nile River. The three countries have been at odds after multiple rounds of talks over the years failed to produce a deal on the operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Ethiopia says the project is essential for its development, while Egypt and Sudan worry about access to vital water supplies from the Nile. "The negotiations over the renaissance dam between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were resumed this afternoon via video conference," Sudan's water ministry said in a statement.
More than 160 people died in inter-ethnic killings and in clashes between protesters and security forces, according to the latest official toll provided over the weekend.
Abiy said last week that Hachalu's killing and the violence that ensued were part of a plot to sow unrest in Ethiopia, without identifying who he thought was involved.
On Tuesday he went a step further, saying it was specifically intended to throw Ethiopia's plans for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam off course.
"The desire of the breaking news is to make the Ethiopian government take its eye off the dam," Abiy said during a question-and-answer session with lawmakers, without giving evidence to support the claim.
Ethiopia sees the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as essential to its electrification and development, while Egypt and Sudan worry it will restrict access to vital Nile waters.
Arrests follow protests that killed at least 166 in Ethiopia
A leading opposition party representing Ethiopia's Oromo ethnic group said Monday that five senior members had been detained following violence last week that claimed at least 166 lives. The political crackdown deepens fears of a large-scale roundup of government critics as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeks to maintain control and keep a lid on simmering ethnic tensions and resentments. The opposition politicians from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were seized by security forces in the capital, Addis Ababa, party chairman Dawud Ibsa told AFP.
Addis Ababa has long intended to begin filling the dam's reservoir this month -- in the middle of its rainy season -- while Cairo and Khartoum are pushing for the three countries to first reach an agreement on how it will be operated.
Talks between the three nations resumed last week.
Ethiopian officials have not publicised the exact day they intend to start filling the dam.
But Abiy on Tuesday reiterated Ethiopia's position that the filling process is an essential element of the dam's construction.
"If Ethiopia doesn't fill the dam, it means Ethiopia has agreed to demolish the dam," he said.
"On other points we can reach an agreement slowly over time, but for the filling of the dam we can reach and sign an agreement this year."
-Ethiopia 'not Syria, Libya'-
Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, also criticised politicians who he suggested were trying to profit from Hachalu's killing to undermine his government.
"You can't become a government by destroying a government by destroying the country, by sowing ethnic and religious chaos," he said.
"If Ethiopia becomes Syria, if Ethiopia becomes Libya, the loss is for everybody."
A number of high-profile opposition politicians have been arrested in Ethiopia in the wake of Hachalu's killing.
Some of them, including former media mogul Jawar Mohammed, have accused Abiy, the country's first Oromo prime minister, of failing to sufficiently champion Oromo interests after years of anti-government protests swept him to power in 2018.
Abiy defended his Oromo credentials on Tuesday. "All my life I've struggled for the Oromo people," he said.
"The Oromo people are free now. What we need now is development."
Satellite Images of Dam Raise Tensions in Egypt and Sudan .
Photos from space add to concerns that Africa’s biggest hydro project could choke off water flowing down the Nile River.Satellite images of Africa’s biggest hydropower project show a reservoir flooding with water from heavy rainfall in recent weeks, adding to tensions that risk spilling into open conflict.