Addis Abeba, March 03/2020 – In a direct rebuttal to a statement released by the US government over the weekend warning Ethiopia not to begin filling, Ethiopia said it will go ahead and begin the first phase of the filling of the reservoir at the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as of next July, in line with its earlier schedule.
The weekend statement released by the US Secretary of the Treasury warned Ethiopia that “final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement,” a remark that caused a collective outrage in Ethiopia and beyond.
Ethiopia has immediately countered the statement from the US Treasury, but stated its commitment to stick to its plan to begin filling of the dam at a presser given this afternoon by Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, and Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia at the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
According to Dr. Seleshi, Ethiopia will continue following international principles of equitable utilization of the Nile water and will adhere to the ongoing negotiations under the framework of the Principle of Declaration (PoD) signed between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. However, Ethiopia will not accept “unnecessary” demands forwarded outside of the agreed upon frameworks. He added that as of July Ethiopia expects to begin filling the mega dam with due considerations to the principles of equitable utilization of the Nile waters by all reparian states. But as “the construction progresses, when we reach at a phase where we need to begin to fill the Dam, we will begin to fill,” he said, adding that the reservoir is expected to hold 4.9 billion cubic meter of water by the end July, the peak of Ethiopia’s rainy season. There was no binding agreement that prohibits Ethiopia from doing so, he said and added “the negotiation has not stopped; it will continue.”
Foreign Minister Gedu on his part reaffirmed that Ethiopia wanted the negotiations to preserve its interest, but blamed the recent role by the United States Department of Treasury and the World Bank for showing interest to draft a law, which is beyond and above participating as mere observers. When it comes to the dam, there is only one option and that is the option of continuing the constructive negotiations the three countries were conducting, he said he said and called on the role of the US and the World Bank to be clearly articulated .