Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema), the major opposition party in Ethiopia has criticized the statement issued by the United Sates Government in relation to the ongoing negotiations among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the construction and operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“We have found the statement made by a government (the Government of the United States of America) with no direct interest in the construction of the Dam to be not in accordance with the principle agreed by the three nations. The statement, furthermore, reminded us of colonial period agreements that left Ethiopia out of the negotiations,” Ezema said in its statement entitle, GERD is national unity and sovereignty.
“Though the dam had complex issues since its inception, we acknowledge that it is a landmark project on which the Ethiopian people sacrificed and continue to scarify for its successful completion. For Ethiopians, the GERD is a symbol of national unity and sovereignty and a testimony for our determination to move out of poverty and despair,” it said.
“We also recognize that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a project that carries the question of equitable utilization and sovereignty over the Nile River for all riparian countries beyond the economic benefits of Ethiopia. We consider the insensitive pressure on Ethiopia’s right to build the Great Renaissance Dam as a threat to our national sovereignty and interest. As a result, we urge all Ethiopians to stand together on the issue of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and show our firm resolve to defend Ethiopia’s National Interest and Sovereignty we have learned from our fathers and
mothers. We also announce that Ezema’s leaders, members and supporters will be at the forefront of any national initiatives to demonstrate our unambiguous stand on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” Ezema said.
Ezema recalled in its statement that there had been several discussions and negotiations about the construction of the GERD between Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile, and the two downstream counties – Sudan and Egypt – since the beginning of the construction of the GERD in 2011.
The three countries signed a Declaration of Principles (DoP) in 2015 in which they agreed the construction of the Dam to be carried out in a manner that would not cause any significant harm to
the downstream countries. The DoP, also takes into consideration the principle of equitable share of the Nile among the riparian countries.
The three countries had also agreed that further discussions and negotiations should be done in accordance with the DoP. “However, contrary to the 2015 DoP, a third party to the agreement (the U.S.
Treasury Secretary) issued a statement regarding the construction of the GERD following a meeting that Ethiopia asked for a reschedule and did not take part in,” Ezema said.
“We urge all the Nile Basin countries, the African Union and members of the international community to stand by the principle of equitable use of the Nile and make their position clear. We call upon all Ethiopians throughout the World to put their differences aside and stand together in support of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam; finish it as soon as possible and use it to strengthen improved
relations with our neighbours. We all need to watch out carefully so that this transformational national project will not be used as a weapon for those who don’t wish well for Ethiopia and its people!”, Ezema said.