African mini-summit on Renaissance Dam slated for Tuesday

Sudan has confirmed that its PM has received an invitation from the chair of the AU to participate in a mini-African summit on Tuesday. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 18 July 2020

African mini-summit on Renaissance Dam slated for Tuesday

  • El-Sisi reportedly rejected any unilateral measures that would harm Egypt’s rights to the waters of the Nile
  • The dam, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, the Blue Nile, is upstream of Egypt

CAIRO: Sudan has confirmed that its Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has received an invitation from the chair of the African Union (AU), the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, to participate in a mini-African summit on Tuesday to discuss the Renaissance Dam project. Egypt and Ethiopia have not announced whether they will participate.
Official Egyptian sources told Arab News that Egypt had received an invitation to hold the mini-summit in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the prime ministers of Egypt and Sudan in a phone call between the president and Ramaphosa.
El-Sisi reportedly rejected any unilateral measures that would harm Egypt’s rights to the waters of the Nile, and called for a comprehensive legal agreement between all parties involved in the operation of the dam.
Ramaphosa praised what he said was the constructive approach taken by Egypt during the recent round of negotiations on the dam under the auspices of the AU, which, he added, reflected Egypt’s sincere will to reach a solution to the crisis.
The dam, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, the Blue Nile, is upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water that the country almost entirely relies on.
It also will be, when fully operational, the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, and is projected to provide power to 65 million Ethiopians, who currently lack a regular electricity supply.
Sudan could also be affected by the dam and is playing a mediating role.
Previous rounds of negotiations between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have failed to overcome the points of disagreement in the legal and technical aspects of the dam, and have raised fears concerning its impact on the water supply downstream.
Cairo and Khartoum are seeking to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam before Addis Ababa begins filling the reservoir. Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly said they would reject any unilateral Ethiopian measures before a comprehensive agreement on the points of disagreement was reached.
The regional director of water resources at the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, Khaled Abu Zaid, said he believed that if Egypt attended the African mini-summit, it would be beneficial.
“Reaching a solution in the Renaissance Dam negotiations is easy, but Ethiopia continues to delay finding a solution. The biggest impediment is the filling and operating rules of the dam,” Abu Zaid said.
He added that the livestock of Ethiopia consumes more water than the total water share of Egypt and Sudan combined. Any disruption in the drainage of the dam, or the occurrence of a collapse, would seriously harm Sudan first, then Egypt, Abu Zaid said.
The political director of EXX Africa, Robert Besseling, told Bloomberg: “There is no urgent danger forcing Egypt to respond in a more aggressive way today because it will take the Renaissance Dam reservoir over five years to fill up. The risk for Egypt will start two years from now when its water flow weakens.”


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.