Ethiopia’s House Speaker Slams Arab Parliament over Statement on Nile Water

Addis Abeba, December 05/2019 (Addis Standard) – In a letter written on November 25/2019 and addressed to Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), said that it was “very unfortunate that the Arab Parliament chose to express its resolve to stand by Egypt’s historical rights on the Nile waters while it has remained silent on the rights, of Ethiopia – a country that is the source of more than 85 percent of the Nile waters.”

Speaker Tagesse’s statement was a response to October 30 Resolution by the Arab Parliament expressing its “full support for the legitimate demands of Egypt and Sudan to maintain their water security, legal and historic rights and shares of the River Nile water.”

“By virtue of this Resolution, we see a discriminatory view to Ethiopia’s critical rights to bring its population out of abject poverty by improving their access to electricity” Tagesse said in the letter exclusively obtained by Addis Standard.

“The Arab Parliament has chosen to issue a Resolution that asserts its desire to defend the so called historical rights of Egypt on the Nile waters. This assertion of historical rights means denial of any use of the Nile water by upstream countries. Upstream countries, which have not been consulted nor parties to the unjustifiable and exclusive Colonial Treaties, are not bound to them and international norm or practice does not prevent upstream countries of the Nile River from using their equitable and reasonable share of their water resources.”

Speaker Tagesse further reiterated that “contemporary international law strongly favors the principle of equitable and reasonable use of international rivers” without causing significant harm to other Riparian Countries. “This cardinal principle is enshrined in the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015 in Khartoum by the Heads of State of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan. Ethiopia deeply regrets that the Resolution contravenes this Declaration of Principle which clearly reiterates the equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile water resources without causing significant harm to the riparian countries,” he wrote.

In the letter CCd to, among others, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,  António Guterres and Moussa Faki Mahamat of the African Union, the speaker urged “the Arab Parliament to correct its position on the Nile and the Great Renaissance Dam, and refrain from encouraging the “winner-takes-all” approach of Egypt towards cooperation on the Nile.”

The latest trilateral technical talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD have once again failed to advance after Egypt’s refusal to re-consider its demand that tied up the filling and operation of the dam to an all time water level of 165m above sea level at High Aswan Dam (HAD) and a minimum guaranteed flow of 40 billion cubic meters of water annually.

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