Arab League “extremely concerned” over Ethiopia’s Nile dam





Worries over water security for millions of people prompted the Arab League yesterday to say it is following “with extreme concern” talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the latter’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which it is building on the Blue Nile.

By GCR

Ethiopia was not “cooperating and coordinating enough”, said Ahmed Abul-Gheit, secretary general of the league, a regional association of 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

His comments came after negotiations between the three countries broke down earlier this month over how to conduct technical studies on the dam’s impact on Egypt and other countries downstream.

Abul-Gheit told the Fourth Arabic Forum for Water in Cairo that water security for Egypt, the most populous Arab country, was a matter of Arab national security.

“We do not feel that Ethiopia was cooperating and coordinating enough. The Ethiopian plans to operate the dam and use its water in irrigation are ambiguous and concerning,” he said, reports Egyptian news site Ahramonline.

Abul-Gheit called on Ethiopia to show more openness and cooperation given that “there are currently 400 million people living on the banks of the Nile who will reach one billion by 2050”.

He said Egypt receives 85% of its water from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile.

As its name suggests, GERD, set to be Africa’s biggest dam, is a project of supreme national importance to Ethiopia. Now more than half built by Italian contractor Salini Impregilo, the hydroelectric plant will have an installed capacity of 6,000 MW – more than double Ethiopia’s current generating capacity – and is central to Ethiopia’s plan to be a net power exporter to the electricity-starved continent.

Construction began in early 2011 as Egypt was convulsed by its January revolution. Since then, fearing for its water security, Egypt has strongly opposed the dam, with concerns over the possibility of the conflict escalating to violence emerging in 2013.

Since then, without relinquishing its concerns, Egypt has acquiesced in principle to Ethiopia’s right to build GERD.

In March 2015 Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and his counterparts from Ethiopia and Sudan signed a cooperation deal on the principles of sharing the Nile River water and the construction of the GERD. Then in September 2016 Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed that French consultants BRL and Artelia would carry out studies on GERD’s impact on the flow of the Nile.

However, negotiations held 11-12 November in Cairo between the three parties broke down over the studies, with Egypt’s water minister accusing Sudan and Ethiopia of trying to direct them in a way that would “render them useless”, reported Middle East news site Al-Monitor.

Meanwhile, Ahramonline reported that Egypt’s president and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are scheduled to meet in Cairo next month to discuss the deadlock.

Ethiopia: General Samora summoned forty generals amid crisis in military

General Mohamed Nur Yunus aka Samora


What are Samora's plans for the army?

By AfricanIntelligence

In late October, the army chief of staff General Mohamed Nur Yunus, known as Samora, summoned some forty generals to the ministry of defence in Addis Ababa. According to our information, the meeting was dominated by the issue of internal divisions within the military high command and its repercussions. General Samora reportedly painted a worrying picture of the current state of the armed forces, who are being ‘left to their own devices’ by commanders who are not doing their job properly. He is understood to have warned his generals that they would be held accountable, suggesting that a purge might be imminent. Samora has already sidelined Oromo generals from military command positions, moving them to posts in the human resources departments (ION 1461). He might now be tempted to rid himself of senior Tigrayan officers who are contesting his authority, such as the former commander of the Northern Defence Command, General Seare Makonen Yimer, who is currently the head of the training department at the ministry.

Uncertain future for former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu after Mugabe’s fall

Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam who fled into exile in Zimbabwe in 1991. It remains to be seen what will happen to him now that his host, Robert Mugabe, has been removed from power. FILE PHOTO


By AGGREY MUTAMBO | Nation

The change of guard in Zimbabwe may have been the unwanted thing in the life of Robert Mugabe. But another former African strongman may be facing an uncertain future as a result.

For years, Robert Mugabe gave asylum and then protected Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Ethiopian dictator who still carries a death sentence on his back.

Government officials in Mugabe’s administration had variously argued that Zimbabwe owed a lot to Mengistu, especially after he reportedly helped Africans during the Bush wars that delivered independence to that country in 1980.

MNANGAGWA

But last Friday, Emerson Mnangagwa took over as Zimbabwe’s new President, bringing with him the uncertainty over whether the Ethiopian dictator will be protected as he had been under Mugabe.

Mengistu, sometimes known as the Butcher of Addis Ababa, had fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 after rebel forces toppled his 17-year autocracy that started with the assassination of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

Throughout his rule, Mengistu ran the country with a feared iron grip, assassinating members of his own junta perceived to oppose his rule.

When from 1983 Ethiopia faced a serious famine which saw global celebrities come together to raise money to help the starving people, Mengistu sought for food aid and technical aid from western powers. At the same time, he retained military and diplomatic ties with the former Soviet Union.

FAMINE

But things did not change much in Ethiopia. The chronic famine in the north continued, the same with the war in Eritrea.

Ethiopia’s economy failed to grow, forcing Mengistu to use the military and his close political associates to maintain his grip on power.

But Ethiopians were unhappy with the situation in the country leading to more unrest.

As a result, the Ethiopian strongman had to use force in his quest to remain in power.

But he could not do this for long and eventually he was defeated by rebel groups forcing him to resign in 1991 and flee into exile.

But even in his absence, Ethiopian courts found him guilty of genocide.

TORTURE AND KILLINGS

His administration was directly put on the spot over the killing 2,000 people and torturing of 2,400 others at the height of the country’s civil war.

Initially, he was sentenced to life in prison, alongside key lieutenants in the junta known as Derg in 2007.

But prosecutors appealed the sentence. He was handed a death sentence in 2008, still in absentia.

Despite the verdict and calls by then Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi to have him extradited, Zimbabwe under Mugabe often offered to protect him.

In the wake of the sentence, for instance, Mugabe’s officials claimed Mengistu would remain “our guest”.

In Zimbabwe’s new leader, some have seen him an extension of Mugabe, especially since he was a long-time ally and former spy for Mugabe until they fell out on succession.

Zimbabwean opposition politicians had indicated they would accept to rendition Mengistu to face jail.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, for instance, told a reporter in 2008 that Zimbabwe would not accept “dictators on our land.”

Ethiopia: TPLF is considering ceasing to arm Eritrean opposition groups and relinquishing Badme to Eritrea





Unchanging for nearly 17 years, Ethiopian diplomacy is poised to undergo a radical overhaul


By African Intelligence

Under the auspices of the minister of foreign affairs Workneh Gebeyechu, an inner circle composed of Ethiopia's permanent representative to the UN, Tekeda Alemu, the diplomatic veteran and new ambassador to China, Berhane Gebre-Christos, and the vice president of the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development, Moges Tesfamichael, is actively engaged in overhauling Ethiopian foreign policy. Their aim is to take account of the growing military and diplomatic cooperation between Ethiopia and Sudan (encouraged largely by Washington), the efforts on the part of Egypt to smooth its relations with Sudan, the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and above all Ethiopia's interest in resuming relations and dialogue with its Eritrean rival. The Ethiopian government is, for instance, thinking of ceasing to arm Eritrean opposition groups, and at the most recent meeting of the TPLF central committee in Mekele the possibility of relinquishing Badme to Eritrea was discussed. Ethiopian diplomats would also like to maintain a delicate balance in relation to Mogadishu and Hargeisa. However, regarding the question of the dispute with Egypt over the sharing of Nile waters, their policy remains unchanged and Addis Ababa wants to keep up the pressure on Cairo and Khartoum to ratify the Entebbe accord, which stipulates the terms for redistributing the waters of the Nile. Overall, the country's new foreign policy will seek to emphasise Ethiopia's increasingly important role in regional mediation, especially when it comes to resolving the outstanding problems in South Sudan and Somalia. An initial outline of this foreign policy strategy will be discussed with the relevant parties at the end of January and the policy is due to be put into effect within the next six months.

EPRDF Has Passed Its Expiry Date






EPRDF Has Passed Its Expiry Date

Written by Simon Weldemichael,


The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has ruled Ethiopia since 1991, is a thinly veiled multi-ethnic coalition façade of the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF). The minority government, subsidized by western powers, has employed two complementary tactics to extend its existence: suppressing internal protests and externalization of internal conflicts. The protests, rooted in the early 1990s, transformed into large-scale protests that have swept throughout Ethiopia. The fire of public protest beginning in November threatens scorch the remaining vestiges of the EPRDF. Having failed to fully quell the uprising through crackdowns, harsh security measures, and the extended state of emergency, the government is now left with no other alternative. The torch of protest, lit first in Oromo, was taken up by the Amharas and other nationalities in the country.

From the very beginning, the government driven by the minority group (TPLF) lacked the capacity to run and govern Ethiopia. The TPLF had neither the capacity nor the intention to liberate the whole of Ethiopia from Colonel Mengistu and to take the responsibility of Ethiopia as a whole. The Constitution the TPLF adopted at its second organizational congress stated that “Since our people [the people of Tigray] have been victims of national domination, they are also struggling to free themselves from this domination and thereby safeguard their national rights, dignity and the right to self-determination.” Initially they didn’t have a sense of identity that was Ethiopian. It was the EPLF who contributed a lot in shaping and reshaping the political stature of the TPLF. History recalls that it was the EPLF’s strong mechanized forces that helped lead The TPLF to Addis Abeba and Menelik palace in 1991. When Weyane consolidated power, they rushed to establish their own version of national domination. As a sign of their narrow version of nationalism, The TPLF included the right to secession in the Ethiopian constitution to form ethnic-based federalism. Article 39(1) states that “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.”

The government, barely able to stand alone, waddled along for so long by the support of donors and western powers. It continuously heralds economic progress, while many failures and crises envelope the country. Despite its horrible record, Ethiopia continues to enjoy strong support from donors. The government receives a pass for its brutal crackdowns against protesters and the state of emergency announcements. Although some rebukes from many of Ethiopia’s traditional allies have been heard, the critical situation inside the country has not attracted the proper attention it deserves. When the brutality of the government reached its heights, Ethiopia was elected to the UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council and one of the government’s highest standing members was selected to lead the WHO.

In many respects, Ethiopia is the cradle of contradictions. On one side of the Ethiopian coin, it appears to be one of the top performing African economies, while on the other side is the country that remains one of the world’s largest recipients of aid, receiving on average $3.5 billion of official development assistance every year between 2008 and 2014.

Despite all the shiny jewelry, the signal shown in the dashboard of the country tells us that the expiry date of the EPRDF, led by the TPLF, is past. The writing is on the wall. There is little chance that the current regime will pursue a correct path and exhibit the political bravery to meet the demands of the people. The government’s repression, instead of restoring public order, has only added fuel to the fire. Public discontent will smolder and expand to every corner of the country.

The social, economic and political indicators show that the ruling party lacks the capacity and will to calm the public anger of Ethiopians. Refugees and internally displaced persons, existence of tension or violence between groups, uneven economic development, corruption, over-dependence on foreign aid, and factionalized elites, combine to undermine public confidence. Additionally, the country’s foreign interventions, often pursued at the behest of its patrons and to externalize its internal crises, further contribute to the state's failure.

Claire Vallings and Magüi Moreno-Torres (2005) discuss how states are considered fragile when their government cannot or will not deliver the core functions to its people, including the poor. The most important functions of the state include territorial control, capacity to manage public resources, delivery of basic services, and the ability to protect and support the people. These are beyond the reach of the Ethiopian government. Loss of territorial control, low administrative capacity, political instability, conflict and pervasive corruption, among others, illustrate that the government has little legitimacy or credibility. The resistance and protests of the oppressed people of Ethiopia have paralyzed the soul and spirit of Weyane. Once the government’s capacity to perform in an expected manner recedes, what remains is devoted to the fortunes of a few or to a favored minority. The Tigray nobility has excluded and disenfranchised the majority, instead working for themselves and further deteriorating their legitimacy.

For the last ten years the annual Fragile States Index compiled by the Fund for Peace ranked Ethiopia among the top fragile states. State failure is usually attributed to internal not external and man made, not accidental. The desperate government of Ethiopia is engaged in worthless attempts to externalize the root causes of the fragility. Hoping that the people of Ethiopia can not think and analyze things on their own, the government has engaged in incessant dissemination of distorted information and accusations against neighboring countries including Eritrea and Egypt.

In addition to the continuing protests across the country, Ethiopia’s recurrent hunger crises are another signal that signal the failure of the EPRDF’s governance. The repeated famines are not the result of drought; rather, they reflect the government’s ineptitude and its mismanagement. Although natural factors certainly are influential, they do not represent the causes of hunger in the country. Numerous studies have revealed that famine is often closely associated with politics and governance. Historically, famine and Ethiopian politics have horrific relations. During the 1973-1974 Wollo famine, attempts to hide the reality of the situation caused the death of thousands while the imperial government spent millions to celebrate eightieth birthday of Haile Selassie. Attempts were also made to hide the famine in the mid-1980s during the regime of Colonel Mengistu. His regime spent millions to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the revolution even while millions were starving throughout the country.

As well, since 1991, Ethiopia has experienced repeated hunger crises under the EPRDF. Setting aside the long list of crises occurring throughout its reign, the latest and ongoing catastrophic crisis is clear reflection of the failure of the governing regime. Research conducted by the Oakland Institute in 2016 states how “The 2016 crisis is a harsh reminder that despite the trumpeted economical miracle, Ethiopia has not moved beyond its tragic history of chronic hunger and famine. Every year since 2005, 8 to 18 million Ethiopians have relied on food assistance for their survival.” Notably, other countries in the region (e.g. Eritrea), despite facing many of the same environmental and natural condition as Ethiopia, have been able to continue to feed their people. For many, Ethiopia under the EPRDF is a land of contradictions; it claims double digit economic growth and boasts of shiny high rises, yet it continues to beg for food to feed its starving millions.

Importantly, in addition to the challenges of food insecurity, overpopulation, political instability, ethnic conflict, breach of international agreements and principles, and corruption have stripped the artificial glamour from the licentious body of the EPRDF. Ethiopia, as many have described, has continued to be a prison of nationalities. Home of over 80 different ethnic groups, Ethiopia has been characterized by ethnic conflict heated by suspicions and hatreds instilled largely by successive governments. The TPLF junta recycled the methods of its predecessors seeking to divide, weaken and rule the society. The disharmony between communities and the oppression of majority by minority group have put Ethiopia in a cycle of political violence that may last for years.

Escalating political and communial conflict, famine, and persecution by the government has contributed to huge number of internally displaced person (IDPs) – the largest ever seen in the history of the country. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center, Ethiopia, with about 213,000 new displacements in the first half of 2017, now has more than 588,000 IDPs (largely just from conflict).

Ironically, the high-cost, low-profit investment policy has turned the country that struggles to feed its own people into a field sold to produce food to feed other countries. As evidenced by compelling findings from research conducted by the Oakland Institute, by 2011 alone the government of Ethiopia had demarcated 3.6 million hectares of land for foreign agricultural investments. Many foreign companies have signed land lease agreements at very cheap prices, ranging from €5 to €20 per year, whereas the average annual rent per hectare in other African countries is usually from €200 to €300. This shortsighted policy of the government has made Ethiopia one of the cheapest countries in Africa for foreign inventors to get hold of farm land. Notably, the unrest since November 2015 has involved grievances regarding land issues.

Finally, while corruption exists in many states, in failed states it is often on an unusually systematic and destructive scale. The little Tigray nobility has almost sucked the marrow of Ethiopia and left nothing for the mass of the country. Beyond being drenched in both large-scale, organized corruption and its petty cousin, there has also been no rule of law to ensure peace and order in the country. According to the latest Rule of Law Index, compiled by the World Justice Project (WJP), Ethiopia’s overall rule of law performance places it at 16th out of 18 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, 10th out of 12 among low-income countries, and 107th out of 113 countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

Overall, the writing is on the wall. The EPRDF has passed its expiry date to govern Ethiopia. The future of Ethiopia is now left in the hands of Ethiopians of all groups. The peace loving peoples of region are eager for them to restore public order and save the country from disintegration. In elementary mathematics one is taught that two negatives provide a positive result. However, this arithmetic doesn’t work in politics. The EPRDF has to understand the basic fact that its negative policies and practices cannot produce positive outcomes.


Ethiopia: TPLF demotes chairman, suspends Meles Zenawi widow





By Engidu Woldie | ESAT

The marathon congress of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Ethiopia’s ruling clique, has removed Abay Woldu as chairman of the Front, according a statement issued by the Front.

The statement said Abay Woldu is will continue as a member of the central committee.

The congress of the TPLF executive and central committee has been going on since early October with reports of infighting within the secretive organization.

Azeb Mesfin, the widow of the late TPLF boss and Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, had reportedly walked out of the congress last week as criticism heated up against her. She is now suspended from the executive committee of the TPLF. Her suspension could potentially lead to her removal from her position as the CEO of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT).

The deputy CEO of EFFORT, Beyene Mikru, was also removed from executive committee and will continue as a member of the central committee, according to the statement.

EFFORT controls all aspects of the economy in Ethiopia, from retail of merchandise to major manufacturing and engineering plants which have been awarded hundreds of millions of dollars government projects. Even reports presented to the country’s rubber stamp parliament show EFFORT had failed to deliver after siphoning off millions of dollars in contracts which are granted without any official bid.

The TPLF statement said two members of the executive committee were given stern warning. It however did not mention them by name.

With the demotion of Abay Woldu and Beyene Mikru and the suspension of Azeb Mesfin, as well as the appointment of Tedros Adhanom as the director general of the WHO, the nine member executive committee is now left with five members.

The statement from the Front says members of the central committee has continued criticism and self-criticism; and upon completion of the congress, the Front will reshuffle its leadership.

Drunk Ethiopian embassy official threatens to ‘start war’ with Turkey



Written by Hurriyet Daily News,

An official from the Ethiopian Embassy in Ankara, who was reportedly drunk, threatened police officers he would “start a war” between Ethiopia and Turkey after he was involved in two traffic accidents on Nov. 26.

Numbers of police officers were dispatched to the scene after the accidents on the suspicion he had been driving under the influence, as he had denied an alcohol test, saying he did not drink alcoholic beverages.

After he was urged by police officers, he threatened them saying he would ignite a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Ethiopia.

One of the witnesses, Burak Ayaydın, whose car was hit in one of the two accidents, said the suspect threatened to “start a war” with Turkey.

“This person hit another car down the road. He drove off from there and then hit us. He was assigned to an embassy of a country. The person is drunk. He did not accept to take an alcohol test and called for ‘war between Ethiopia and Turkey.’” People who witnessed the incident also said he actually said that,” Ayaydın said.

Armed group attacks military camp in Northern Ethiopia




Written by ESAT,

An armed group opposing the Ethiopian regime claimed responsibility for an attack on a military camp in Northern Ethiopia.

Patriotic Ginbot 7, which has been carrying out sporadic attacks on regime targets in Northern Ethiopia, said its forces have made a surprise attack on a military camp in Azezo, North Gonder.

A statement from the group sent to ESAT said the camp has been partially damaged by the fire that ensued the attack in the wee hours of the night on Thursday.

The statement said the attack was carried out when soldiers left the military camp to backup a group of other soldiers who came under attack while escorting a fuel truck. The truck was carrying fuel from Sudan to Gondar when it came under attack in Chilga.

The truck and the loaded fuel was also destroyed, the group claims. Head of Communications Affairs with the Amhara Regional government, Nigussu Tilahun, however said the truck had accidentally overturned and caught fire.

A representative of the PG7 meanwhile told ESAT that regime soldiers were harassing farmers in the area in an attempt to gather information about the attackers.


(ESAT Video) Latest News in Ethiopia (Nov. 18)



Latest News in Ethiopia (Nov. 18)






EU Blacklisted Ethiopia Over Money Laundering



European Commission identified Ethiopia as a threat to the financial system of the Union.

(Tesfa News) — The European Commission proposes amending the blacklist by adding Ethiopia and removing Guyana from the list. It urges all European banks to enhance due diligence on any money coming from that country.

The European Commission blacklisted Ethiopia for being very risky in money laundering and terrorism financing, urging banks situated in Europe to apply enhanced due diligence on financial flows from the country.

Aiming to ensure proper functioning of the European market, the Commission, in its latest regulation released on October 27, 2017, added the country to the list of high-risk third countries along with Iran, Syria, Yemen and seven other nations.

The new rule will be applicable in 28 European Union member countries upon being approved by the parliament of the Union within twenty days after its release.

“Countries on this list must be subjected to additional counter checks and the ‘know-your-customer’ (KYC) rules- which involves cross-checking the business and identity of clients,” the regulation reads.

The high-risk countries, according to the Commission, will pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union.

“Unlike countries under the high-risk non-cooperative list, this won’t bring any problem to the country,” said Berhanu W.Kiros, deputy head of Financial Intelligence Centre, established to combat terrorist financing, money laundering and related matters in the country.

The Commission added Ethiopia to the list of risky countries half a year after the adjustment of the proposal made by the Commission to swap Guyana from the list, for Ethiopia.

The European Parliament voted against the list by 392 ballots to 80, with 207 abstentions.

For Ethiopia, it is not a new thing to be listed in a jurisdiction having a deficiency in anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing.

Seven years ago, the country was labelled as a threat to the international financial system by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental organisation, with 37 member countries, founded in 1998 to combat terrorism financing and money laundering globally.

Presently, studies indicate that money laundering is posing a significant danger to the developmental and security efforts of the world. Being a principally informal and cash-based economy, Ethiopia is exposed to terrorism and money laundering activities, the assessment made by FATF reveals.

Realising the effects, Ethiopia’s government had enacted a legal framework eight years ago, although it criminalised money laundering back in 2005.

Three years later, it established the Financial Intelligence Centre to oversee the terrorist financing, money laundering and other related matters. Since then, the Centre has been undertaking various measures to fight such acts including directing financial institutions to implement customer due diligence.

Nevertheless, this was not considered adequate by the European Commission that identified the country as a threat to the financial system of the Union.

Although Ethiopia has provided a written high-level political commitment to address laundering, the analysis indicates it should be considered as a third-country jurisdiction considering the progress it has made, the Commission’s regulation reads.

For the three-decade experienced macro-economist and policy analyst, this is alarming.

“This shows there is a high amount of illegal capital flight in the country,” he said. “It is a result of lack of transparency and surge in corruption.”

Berhanu replied. “We are striving to get out of the list,” he said.

A study by the Global Financial Intelligence revealed that about 26 billion dollars left the country unlawfully between 2004 and 2013. The same reports discovered that Ethiopia loses two billion dollars annually due to illicit financial flows.

But for the macro-economist, working to get out of the list is not a priority.

“Abolishing backdoor contractual agreements and measures to ensure transparency should be taken to combat laundering,” he said.

Egypt warns Ethiopia Nile dam dispute ‘life or death’

Renaissance Dam



Written by Associated Press,

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for the second time in as many days, delivered on Saturday a stern warning to Ethiopia over a dam it is building after the two countries along with Sudan failed to approve a study on its potential effects.

Ethiopia is finalizing construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, its first major dam on the Blue Nile, and will eventually start filling the giant reservoir behind it to power the Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam.

Egypt fears that will cut into its water supply, destroying parts of its precious farmland and squeezing its population of 94 million people, who already face water shortages.

Dam construction on international rivers often causes disputes over the downstream impact.

Cairo said last week that the three countries had failed to approve an initial study by a consultancy firm on the dam’s potential effects on Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia says the dam is essential to its development and has repeatedly sought to reassure Egypt. But Cairo’s efforts to persuade Addis Ababa to engage in closer coordination over the dam appear to have made little headway.

El-Sissi sought to reassure Egyptians in televised comments while attending the inauguration a fish farm in the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheikh, but stressed that “water is a matter of life or death.”

“No one can touch Egypt’s share of water,” he said.

The Nile provides over 90 percent of Egypt’s water supply. It already receives the lion’s share of Nile waters — more than 55 billion of the around 88 billion cubic meters of water that flow down the river each year.

El-Sissi used a news conference at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Nov. 8 to deliver the same message to Ethiopia.

“We view positively the developmental needs of our friends and brothers in Ethiopia,” he said, then added “We are capable of protecting our national security and water to us is a question of national security. Full stop.”

The Egyptian leader did not say how Egypt intended to proceed. The government has publicly ruled out military action, but top Egyptian officials have in recent months been sharpening their rhetoric on Ethiopia.

El-Sissi has sought to foster better ties with sub-Saharan Africa, especially fellow Nile basin countries, insisting that while his country needs its full share of the river’s waters, it is ready to help them with their economic development.

Ethiopian authorities deport prominent scholar René Lefort


René Lefort


Written by Addis Standard,

Addis Abeba, November 18/2017 – Reliable sources tell Addis Standard that René Lefort, a prominent scholar known for his critical observation of Ethiopian politics, was deported by Ethiopian authorities up on arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Abeba on Tuesday November 14, 2017.

According to sources familiar with the matter and who want to remain anonymous, René Lefort arrived at the airport on Tuesday with a valid visa. However, as soon as he arrived, his French passport was confiscated by Ethiopian immigration officials at the airport before he was subsequently expelled with the next flight to Paris, France the same day.

René Lefort, who is now in Paris, confirmed the news and said the immigration officials “refused to tell me why I have been evicted”. “I have been blocked at the airport, my passport has been confiscated, the immigration service obliged me to [fly] back to Paris the same night,” Mr. Lefort said in an e-mail sent to Addis Standard. According to him, he arrived at Bole airport “with a business visa, delivered by the Ethiopian embassy in Paris, after having got the green light from the concerned services in Addis Abeba, following the normal process. I had planed to stay three weeks in Ethiopia.”

An observer of Ethiopian politics since the 1970s, René Lefort is known for his in-depth analysis regarding the nature of political events in Ethiopia. He is also known for his frequent articles on Sub-Saharan African countries published in respected publications such as Open Democracy, Libération, Le Monde, Le Monde diplomatique and Le Nouvel Observateur.

His articles on Ethiopia often appear on Open Democracy. His latest article, published on October 22, 2017, and was titled “Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight” delivered a critical analysis into the recent deepening political crisis in Ethiopia. The “four scenarios” he discussed in the article were a topic of wide range discussions among Ethiopia observers and the Ethiopian social media space.

Mr. Lefort, who is believed to maintain a cordial relation with a few senior government officials in Ethiopia and who often travels to Ethiopia to asses political events firsthand before writing his articles, says he was informed by a senior official in an e-mail that it could only be a “misunderstanding”. “This expulsion came as a surprise for many observers,” he said, adding, he was “deeply frustrated” that he was now “prevented” to asses firsthand a changing political dynamic, which “in my view is one of the most important in the contemporary Ethiopian history.”

Addis Standard has made several attempts to reach out to immigration authorities in the airport, but all were to no avail. And its e-mail sent to the visa section of the Ethiopian embassy in Paris has not been answered as of the publication of this news.