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U.S. suspends over $100m aid to Ethiopia over GERD unilateral filling

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GERD (Reuters (photo)
September 2, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The United States has decided to suspend over $100 million in aid to Ethiopia following the unilateral first filling of the reservoir of a giant dam under construction before to reach an agreement with the downstream countries.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been since several years negotiating a deal over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Trump administration sought to use its leverage on its two regional allies (Egypt and Ethiopia) and narrow the gaps between them but Addis Ababa snubbed the "pro-Egyptian" White House role in this process.

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, the suspension was triggered by the unilateral filling of the dam while negotiations on the filling were underway.

“State has decided to cut assistance” due to Ethiopia’s position on GERD negotiations, the source told Reuters via email. “Up to $100M or so will be affected, of which $26M is funding that expires at the end of the (financial year)," a congressional source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The temporary suspension of aid "reflects our concern about Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to begin to fill the dam before an agreement and all necessary dam safety measures were in place," said a State Department spokesperson in statements to the Associated Press.

Washington considers that the first filling the dam while negotiations were underway undermined confidence between the parties and was inconsistent with commitments Ethiopia had made to not take unilateral decisions.

The United States is one of three observers participating in the talks over the GERD together with the European Union and the African Union which now hosts the talks.

In July, Khartoum and Cairo protested the move but Ethiopia said the first filling was due to the rainfall, without further details.

The filling process will take several years during the wet season between July and September.

On 31 August, Ethiopian Ambassador to Washington Fitsum Arega wrote on his Twitter account that he learned from the American administration is was a "Temporary Pause".

"The dam is ours! We will finish it together! With our efforts, our Ethiopia will shine!," he further added in his tweet written in Amharic.

(ST)

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