Ethiopia confirms No Aggression Policy in dam dispute

A handout satellite image shows a closeup view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia

On Saturday, Ethiopia said that threats of any kind towards resolving a dispute with its neighbours over the filling and operation of a massive hydropower dam were “misguided, unproductive and clear violations of international law”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office made no mention of any person or any country in a statement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is at the center of a dispute over Nile water supplies.

But his comment came hours after U.S. President Donald Trump held a phone call with the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. They called for an amicable solution between Ethiopia and Egypt.

In the call, held in front of reporters at the White House, Trump said he had also told Egypt the same thing, saying it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up “blowing up that dam.”

Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the GERD’s filling and operation, which remains unresolved. However, the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“Occasional statements of belligerent threats to have Ethiopia succumb to unfair terms still abound,” Abiy’s office said. “These threats and affronts to Ethiopian sovereignty are misguided, unproductive, and clear violations of international law.”

The first phase of filling the dam was completed in August, Abiy’s office said.

Egypt says it is dependent on the Nile for more than 90% of its scarce freshwater supplies and fears the dam could have a devastating effect on its economy.

On Friday, Trump said he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, forcing him to cut funds.

Abiy’s office said there was significant progress in resolving the dispute since the African Union took over the negotiations.

“Ethiopia will not cave into aggressions of any kind, nor do we give recognition to a right that is based on colonial treaties,” it said.

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