Friday, January 20, 2017

Egyptian activists challenge govt. deal on Ethiopia’s Nile dam - press

Egyptian lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali (C) celebrates amid street crowds on January 16, 2017 after a top court ruled against a government agreement to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (Photo by AFP)
Egyptian lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali (C) celebrates amid street crowds on January 16, 2017 after a top court ruled against a government agreement to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (Photo by AFP)
A group of Egyptian lawyers and political activists are preparing a lawsuit to challenge President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s preliminary agreement on Ethiopia’s Nile dam project.
The agreement which asserted Ethiopia’s right to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has caused grave concern in Egypt over the prospect of the country’s water and electricity supply.
The deal was inked by Sisi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in March 2015.
The group of lawyers and activists who seek to overturn Sisi’s decision argue that the agreement runs counter to the interests of Egypt.
The activists accuse the Ethiopian negotiators of taking advantage of the agreement and collecting international funding for the project.
The 2015 deal is aimed at setting principles which ensure that the construction of the dam would not harm the other countries and will compensate them in case of any damage. Many Egyptians – and Sudanese are concerned that their towns and villages will be swept away if the dam collapses.
The Nile supplies the bulk of Egypt’s drinking water, irrigates the Nile Delta and generates nearly half of the country’s electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam.
During the era of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, Ethiopia made several attempts to build the dam, but Mubarak asserted that Egyptian access to its share of the Nile’s waters was out of question.
Following the overthrow of Mubarak, Ethiopia began building the GERD in April 2011 at a cost of $4.7bn and the project is expected be completed in July.
The news comes as Sisi already faces calls to be prosecuted for treason after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled against the government on Monday over the proposed transfer of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia under a deal that provoked outrage among Egyptians.
The hashtags “One million signatures to prosecute Sisi” and “Sisi is a traitor by verdict of the court” are on top of Egypt’s trending hashtags.
An Egyptian woman attends street celebrations with a national flag in Cairo on January 16, 2017 after a top court ruled against a government agreement to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia (Photo by AFP).
Court ruling against transfer of islands to Saudi Arabia
Celebrations erupted over the ruling outside the court in Cairo, with human rights lawyer Khaled Ali who along with Malek Adly led the legal challenge to the government’s plan leading them.
Sisi announced on April 9, 2016 that the two islands fall within the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia as stipulated in a border accord signed between Cairo and Riyadh the previous day.
The deal triggered unprecedented mass demonstrations, with protesters slamming the arrangement as unconstitutional. A number of lawyers meanwhile filed a lawsuit in the administrative court to block the deal.
Demonstrators have accused Sisi of surrendering Egyptian territory in return for Saudi money amid reports that Cairo was receiving $20 billion in aid from Riyadh to relinquish sovereignty of the islands. Egyptian courts have given jail terms to hundreds of protesters.
Back in June 2016, a lower administrative court rejected the agreement, prompting the country’s State Lawsuits Authority, representing the Sisi government in legal cases, to lodge an appeal.
Late last month, the Cairo government endorsed the contentious maritime border agreement in defiance of the June 2016 ruling and sent it to the parliament for ratification. The Monday’s ruling is final and could not be appealed again.

Egyptian activists fight against Sisi's Ethiopia dam agreement | Al Bawaba


Egyptian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a Cairo demonstration against the handing over of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, April 25, 2016. (AFP/Mohamed el-Shahed)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Al-Sisi, Kiir, and Museveni Form a Tripartite Alliance against Ethiopia and Sudan?


South Sudan’s President Silva Kiir visits Egypt for three days to hold talks with his Egyptian counterpart and other officials. Silva Kiir meets Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt to discuss bilateral relations.

During a press conference that was held at the presidential palace in Cairo, South Sudan president praised the Egyptian government’s support for the re-institution of stability in his country, calling on rebel groups to stop weakening his country’s government.
In the same context, Kiir also praised several development projects implemented by Egypt in his country, adding that around six thousand South Sudanese nationals are currently living and studying in Cairo.
A civil war has erupted in the central African country since Kiir sacked Riek Machar as vice president in 2013. As a result, more than 10,000 people have been killed and over 2 million displaced, many of whom have fled to neighboring Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and North Sudan.
In December 2013, a UN Security Council resolution authorized the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to the country, comprising 12,500 troops from twenty countries, including Egypt.
A ceasefire was signed between President Kiir and Machar after four days of intense gun battles that killed at least 300 in July 2016.
Is there a “Secret Deal” Between Kiir and Al-Sisi Brokered By Uganda?
Hours after Kiir landed in the Egyptian capital Cairo, allegations surfaced on the presence of a secret deal between Cairo and Juba brokered by Uganda.
A senior SPLM-IO(South Sudan’s armed opposition) official told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa that South Sudan’s armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) accused Cairo and Juba of working on a secret deal to keep South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in power.
However, South Sudanese rebels stated that the main player in these secret negotiations is Uganda that paved the way between South Sudan and Egypt.
In this context, an intelligence source was cited saying that South Sudan and Egypt have been in talks for sometimes.
It is noteworthy that al-Sisi visited Uganda last December 18, 2016.
The rebel official, who asked to remain anonymous in the report because of the sensitivity of the issue, explained that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has brokered a “dirty deal” which would allow Kiir to receive lethal weapons and ammunition from Egypt to wage a full-scale war against the armed opposition.
The source said, “There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and Al-Sisi,” adding that “the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalized in Cairo.”
The source ensured, “Our intelligence sources in Kampala and Juba confirmed that Egypt wants South Sudan and Uganda to be her regional allies so that she can advance its covert sabotage campaign against the Ethiopian Dam. The man [Kiir] is a double agent; he will cause many problems for the entire East Africa region.”
One of the SPLM/A-IO leaders in Cairo also mentioned that some areas in Cairo where South Sudanese live have witnessed increased police activities in recent days, according to South Sudan News Agency.
The source stated that Kiir’s visit aims mainly to issue with al-Sisi Egypt’s interests in East Africa, military deal brokered by Uganda, and ways to maintain peace in South Sudan in case if the current Transitional Government of National Unity collapses.
The source continued, saying Kiir asked al-Sisi to help strengthen relations between Khartoum and Juba so that he could further isolate South Sudanese rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar.
In return, Kiir would assist Al-Sisi regarding the Renaissance Dam issue as Egypt fears that its establishment would have negative repercussion on its water shares from the Nile River.
An Egyptian Newspaper: A tripartite Alliance to Siege Ethiopia 
In the same context, an Egyptian newspaper al-Dostour published an article titled: “In Cooperation between Cairo, Juba, and Uganda… Egypt leads a tripartite alliance to siege Ethiopia.”
The Egyptian newspaper mentioned that Egypt seeks to enhance its movements in Africa and especially with the Nile basin countries.
It also reported that Egypt, Juba, and Uganda currently form a tripartite alliance its main target to siege Ethiopia, support Egypt’s interests in the region and put pressure on Addis Ababa’s government if necessary.
Moreover, one of Egypt’s top priority to enhance its influence in Sudan to put pressure on Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s regime if the situation escalated especially that al-Bashir’s policy toward Egypt is changeable and unstable.
In addition, al-Bashir backs Ethiopia against Egypt, according to al-Dostour newspaper.
In the same context, Sudan Tribune (an electronic news portal on Sudan and South Sudan) said, “The three leaders agreed to open training camps for Sudanese armed opposition at Uganda-South Sudan border with the view to topple the Sudanese government for supporting the construction of a dam by Ethiopian government on River Nile.”
“This deal, according to security sources, resulted in dispatching more than big trucks full of Ugandan troops heading to South Sudan,” according to Sudan Tribune.
It added that unconfirmed reports claimed that 20 trucks entered Nimule through Elgu, and eighteen trucks via Ajdumani to Kajokej.”
A source told Sudan Tribune that the mission is to chase the armed opposition figures and to clear out rebellion around South Sudan border with Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, though the Uganda government blackmail the people in the region that they are pursuing Uganda Armed oppositions in Northern Uganda, Eastern Uganda and West Nile as a mere political propaganda.
Sudan Tribune also pointed out to the of al- Sisi’s visit to Uganda last month followed by unofficial visit of president Museveni to Juba three days after Egypt President visited  Uganda,” in which President Museveni during a closed-door meeting with President Silva Kiir, conveyed the message that he and Egyptian leader to open up a training camp at border with his country.”
According to the Sudanese news site, both Kampala and Juba meetings concluded to provide support to the Sudanese and Ethiopian Armed oppositions which will involve training and providing weapons to SPLM-North, Darfur Rebels both with Military Equipment and full logistics including Finance. “Egypt will supply Uganda then South Sudan will be the corridors to supply the equipment to the SPLM-North, Darfur Rebels and Ethiopian Armed opposition.”
According to media reports, these military training camps will be opened along South Sudan border with Uganda and Congo border. The main aim behind that “to use Congo Central Africa corridors to launch attacks on Sudanese government than using South Sudan Border. The training Camps will be around Mofok and around Lasu,” said Sudan Tribune.
A security source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that this will be making it o easier for transportation of the Equipment by land because by air it will be difficult because South Sudan air-space is under the control of Sudan.
The source further alleged that the Egyptian government had sent 58 senior military commanders to South Sudan through Uganda to access the ground for training for SPLA, Sudanese and Ethiopian rebels.
He also added that the commanders are from different military units, armor, artillery, air-defense and central military intelligence.
Last August, Sudan Tribune cited military sources saying that South Sudanese recruits largely drawn by the ethnic group of President Salva Kiir and his army chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, have been trained by foreign instructors from Egypt and neighboring Uganda to perform airborne landing to seize an enemy’s airfield and retain it until the arrival of the main forces.
Kiir’s Visit to Egypt Will Renew Ethiopia’s Fears 
There is no doubt that Kiir’s latest visit to Egypt will alarm Ethiopia that shares the same borders with South Sudan especially after several media reports pointed to a hidden deal between Cairo and Juba regarding the Renaissance Dam.
Kiir’s visit would probably renew Addis Ababa’s fears that al-Sisi would use Juba to cause unrest on the Ethiopian territories taking advantage of Kiir’s need to restore back his power and stabilize his country from the rebel movement.
It is noteworthy that Ethiopia has accused Egypt of destabilizing the country’s national security.
Last December, the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that there are Egyptian institutions harboring, supporting, and funding terrorist groups in Ethiopia, during his interview on Al- Muqabla show aired on Al-Jazeera.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s comments came in response to a question regarding his country’s claims that Egypt and Eritrea are supporting opposition groups in Ethiopia.
Desalegn explained that they repeatedly addressed the Egyptian authorities regarding those institutions, and called on them to take suitable procedures against them and investigate them, adding that Egyptian authorities have denied their relation with these institutions.
Among these groups is the Oromo Liberation Front, he noted.
The minister explained that they need not refer to intelligence findings to obtain information regarding these institutions since the information is already available on the internet and on Egyptian media outlets.
The prime minister said that the support of these institutions will impact relations between both countries, as it targets Ethiopia’s stability.
He concluded that Ethiopia is awaiting Egypt’s response regarding this issue.
Although the anchor pushed the narrative of an Egyptian intervention due to building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the prime minister denied such claims saying that is not the cause, as the dam will be built without any influence from Egypt or Sudan.
This was not the first time that Ethiopia stated such claims against Egypt. In early October, a video showed members from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopian media described as Egyptians.
The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry commented on the video saying that Egypt does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.
Ethiopian refugees in Egypt, including people from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, usually arrange rallies in front of the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Cairo to protest against the Ethiopian government’s violations against opposition groups in their homeland.
The Oromo and Amhara represent the largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. A significant proportion of these communities have fled Ethiopia due to the persecution and violent treatment by the state. Opposing members of these groups are frequently protesting in Ethiopia causing them to face prison and death.
The Oromo people have an estimated population of 40 million, including 20,000 political prisoners who are accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, an outlawed group labeled as a terrorist organization.
In late July, two Ethiopian asylum seekers allegedly set themselves on fire in front of the UNHCR as part of a protest led by the Oromo community that sought to demand the right to seek asylum with the UN office.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ethiopia releases Egyptian nationals detained during recent unrest:



The foreign ministry said the three Egyptian men have been released after months of detention in Addis Ababa

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jan 2017
Egypt’s foreign ministry says Ethiopia has released three Egyptian nationals detained for months during a recent wave of violent protests that left hundreds dead in the East African country.
The foreign ministry secured the three men’s release after a months-long effort, the ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday. The nationals departed Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa for Cairo Wednesday night. They were not charged with any wrongdoing, the ministry added.
Egypt’s Foreign minister Sameh Shoukry traveled to Addis Ababa in November to discuss the release of the men with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
In October, Ethiopia blamed “elements” from Eritrea and Egypt for stoking an unprecedented wave of protests against the Ethiopian government over land grabs and human rights abuses that led the government to declare a six-month state of emergency.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi denied the accusations of Egyptian involvement.
“Egypt has never ever offered any support to the opposition and will not carry out any conspiratorial action against Ethiopia,” El-Sisi said at the time.
Ethiopia’s information minister Getachew Reda was quoted saying that such elements were “not necessarily directly linked with the Egyptian government.”
Tensions have arisen in recent years between Cairo and Addis Ababa over each country’s access to the Nile River as a water source.
On the detainees’ release, Egypt’s foreign ministry said it “reflects that both sides are keen to preserve the gains that have been achieved on bilateral relations…and bolster and develop such ties.”

Egypt and South Sudan accused of ‘dirty deal’ in latest meeting – Middle East Monitor



President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) is welcomed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on 10th January 2017 [Egyptian Presidency - Handout/Anadolu]

President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) is welcomed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on 10th January 2017 [Egyptian Presidency - Handout/Anadolu]
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir met with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss strengthening ties between the two African nations. Kiir thanked Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for supporting his government and positively reinforced the implementation of the peace deal to end the country’s civil war, Egypt’s state media reported.
Sisi’s meeting with Kiir comes in the wake of a recent visit to Uganda where he met with President Yoweri Museveni, who is a close ally of the South Sudanese president. However according to anonymous sources close to exiled opposition leader Riek Machar’s rebel group, the meeting between Sisi and Kiir is part of greater efforts to strike a “dirty deal”.
“There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and Sisi,” the sources claimed. “The issue of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalised in Cairo.”
Ethiopia is currently building the dam on the River Nile near its source in the Ethiopian highlands. This has raised fears in Egypt that the flow of the river will be limited; it depends on Nile water for agriculture, industry and domestic water supplies. Egypt is trying to prevent such a reduction in supply by racking up support from its allies.
The government in Addis Ababa has denied that the dam will result in a reduction of water supplies to other countries. The dam, it insisted, will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, making it the powerhouse of Africa, and will provide additional water for the downstream countries, including Sudan and Egypt.
Egypt is keen to have South Sudan and Uganda as allies for the purpose of advancing its “covert sabotage campaign” against the dam. The meeting with Kiir is likely to be used to get South Sudan to exert pressure on Ethiopia. According to the sources, this “dirty deal” has been brokered by Uganda’s Museveni and will allow Kiir to receive weapons and ammunition from Egypt to wage a “full-scale war against the armed opposition.”
Indeed, South Sudan’s armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) accused Cairo and Juba earlier this week of working on a secret deal to keep Kiir in power. According to SSNA, the three-day meeting between the Egyptian and South Sudanese presidents is all about Egypt’s interests in East Africa, a military deal though Uganda and ways to maintain peace in South Sudan in case the current Transitional Government of National Unity collapses. The aim is to isolate even further rebel leader Machar.
When Sisi met with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in Cairo last month, it was also seen as a deliberate move against Ethiopia. The two met to discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations across all levels, including fishing and agriculture projects, but is seen widely as putting further pressure on Addis Ababa to be more flexible in dealings about the dam.
Ethiopia in turn accused Egypt and neighbouring Eritrea of supporting the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, and provoking an unprecedented wave of protests that led to the country’s six-month state of emergency. One Ethiopian minister said that there is “ample evidence” that Egypt provided training and financial aid to the group, which is viewed as a terrorist entity by Ethiopia. There were also “elements in the Egyptian political establishment” which were fomenting rebellion and seeking to reinforce promote “historical rights” over access to the River Nile.
Saudi Arabian officials caused controversy last year by visiting the controversial dam in Ethiopia, putting further strain on relations between Cairo and Riyadh.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ethiopia bids to become wind capital of Africa - CNN.com

Riders on the storm: Ethiopia bids to become wind capital of Africa

Story highlights

  • Ethiopia signals massive expansion of renewable energy
  • Investments will see sector grow more than 1000% by 2020
(CNN)Ethiopia is mid-way through a six-month state of emergency, but its renewable energy sector continues to make rapid progress.
The East African state has enjoyed a decade of strong growth, giving rise to profitable industries, new infrastructure, and showpiece summits.
    To sustain this momentum, Ethiopia's government is pressing ahead with ambitious development plans, and clean energy is core to the mission.
    Ethiopia was among the most daring signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to cut carbon emissions by 64% by 2030. The government has ploughed billions of dollars into hydropower megaprojects such as the Grand Renaissance Dam -- which will be the largest dam in Africa -- and the freshly-inaugurated Gibe III Dam.
    The next target is to become the wind power capital of Africa.
    Camels walk along the road near turbines at Ashegoda wind farm in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region.

    Breezing ahead

    Ethiopia inaugurated one of the continent's largest wind farms in 2013 -- the $290 million, 120-megawatt (MW) Ashedoga plant. This was followed by the even larger 153 MW Adama II facility in 2015.
    But wind accounted for just 324 MW of Ethiopia's total output of 4,180 MW at the end of 2015, with the vast majority coming from hydropower.
    This picture is set to change with the government's second "Growth and Transformation Plan," which will see total output pass 17,000 MW by 2020, and a vastly increased share from the air.
    The government has plans for at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 megawatts from wind power within four years. The cost is officially calculated at $3.1 billion, although other estimates place it over $6 billion.
    "We are conducting research and studying the data to see the number of plants we can connect (to the National Grid)," says Misikir Negash, head of communications for the Ethiopian Electric Power company. "It is important to have different energy sources for a reliable system. Wind is a big focus and we need it."

    A 1,000% increase

    The target of increasing wind output by more than 1,000 percent within four years has been greeted with skepticism in some quarters, but there are reasons to believe.
    "The government has already taken on far bigger projects," says Zekarias Amsalu, director of Ethiopia Operations at market research group Asoko Insight, referencing the $6 billion Grand Renaissance Dam project. "I don't doubt it can be achieved."
    Amsalu says that three factors are driving Ethiopia's shift to wind; the devastating droughts that have diminished the value of hydropower energy, the falling cost of wind power technology, and growing evidence that Ethiopia is blessed with ideal sites for harvesting wind.
    The government has enlisted the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) as a partner, the Danish government agency that serves as one-stop shop for large-scale wind projects across the world, and special advisor Henrik Breum agrees that Ethiopia has vast potential.
    "Their capacity should enable them to be a dominant wind nation in the region," he says. "They have very good winds in the dry season which is normally when you would like to top up electricity production...From a wind perspective this is one of the most promising countries in the continent."
    Ethiopia is developing wind alongside a hydropower sector that delivers most of the country's renewable energy. The sector will soon expand through the Grand Renaissance Dam -- the largest dam in Africa.

    Home and away

    Despite Ethiopia's grand plans, development has been slow to arrive for many of the country's poor.
    Just 26.6 percent of the population have access to electricity, according to the latest World Bank figures.
    Negash disputes this figure, and insists there is no contradiction between pressing ahead with new technology and supporting wider access.
    "We have different departments working towards parallel goals," he says. "We have a program to provide 90 percent of people with (electricity) access within five years."
    Wind power is also expected to deliver wider benefits for struggling communities through training and job opportunities around the new sites.
    Further, the plants are likely to strengthen Ethiopia's position in the region through trade. The country is already an exporter of energy to neighbors such as Sudan and Kenya, and wind power will offer new options.
    "They can use wind to feed their local grid and export from their hydropower resources," says Amsalu. "Most of these are on the border so they are (ideal) for exports and gaining foreign currency."
    Ethiopia's partners are hoping that the successful adoption of wind will drive a wider trend in the region.
    "I think Ethiopia can be a very good showcase for renewables," says Breum. "Hopefully this can show neighboring countries that low carbon development of the power sector is possible."