The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River meant to turn Addis Ababa into Africa’s biggest power exporter, but Egypt fears the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, would significantly diminish its water supply from the Nile, its major source of fresh water. Although the trilateral negotiations on the GERD had stalled after Ethiopia rejected the US-brokered agreement, Egypt kept pursuing the diplomatic route to protect its water rights in the Nile River.
A balanced win-win solution is at hand and the opportunity to chart a new course and redraw the history of the Blue Nile is within our grasp and should be seized for the benefit of over 215 million Egyptians and Ethiopians.
The Egyptian American Council has launched a petition called “Egyptians Right to the Water of the Nile.” It aims to emphasise the country’s right in the Nile calling on the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to respect the applicable rules of international law and not to undertake unilateral measures concerning GERD that could harm Egyptian riparian rights and interests.
The petition calls for Ethiopia to abide by the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DoP). This is especially apparent in your insistence on filling the GERD unilaterally in July 2020 without reaching an agreement with downstream states, and while holding negotiations on the GERD Hostage to domestic political considerations.
“We call on you to affirm your commitment not to commence the filling of the GERD without an agreement and to accept the agreement prepared by neutral mediators. We also ask you to take into consideration the common values, cultural ties, and bonds of kinship between the Egyptian people and Ethiopian people,” the petition said.
Tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa escalated recently after Ethiopia did not attend the last US-sponsored meeting with Egypt and Sudan in Washington to sign the final agreement over the rules of filling and operating the GERD. The agreement, which was drafted by the US, was initiated by Egypt, but not signed by Sudan or Ethiopia.
Despite the Ethiopian claims that Egypt wants to envoke “colonial agreements,” the 1902 agreement was signed by Emperor of Ethiopia Menelik II. According to this agreement, Ethiopia pledged not to build any facilities on the banks of the Nile without prior consultation with Egypt.
Under a 1993 agreement, Ethiopia also undertook not to construct facilities that would cause significant damage to Egypt’s share of the Nile waters.
Still, Egypt has been patient in its negotiations with Ethiopia that only showed intransigence, procrastination, and lack of seriousness.
You can sign the petition here: