The federal government of Somalia has stated that it will remain neutral in the dam dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt following alleged reports of signing the Arab League resolution supporting Egypt.
In an exclusive interview, Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Isse Awad discussed the tension between the countries saying Somalia will never allow others to dictate its position.
“Our position on the conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia on the Nile River is neutral, and if needed, Somalia role is mediation and the possibility of ending the dispute.” said Ahmed Issa Awad.
On the other hand, the minister protested reports that Somalia had signed the Arab League resolution supporting Egypt, but later withdrew, under pressure from Ethiopia, denouncing all these reports.
The statement comes as the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry announced that the governments of Djibouti and Somalia have communicated to them messages of regret over the Arab League’s decision to support Egypt.
The Grand Renaissance Dam, being built on the Nile river by Ethiopia, has become a matter of great concern in the North African region as tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt mount, with Sudan caught in between.
Since November, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating on ways of filling the dam while retaining flow to the downstream rivers.
The negotiations mediated by the US and the World Bank (which funded the project), however, appeared to hit bumps last month after Ethiopia rejected the deal fronted by the US. Egypt initialed on the agreement, which in diplomatic terms means it has completed negotiations.
Addis rejected the proposal and accused the US of rushing the deal. Ethiopia’s negotiators had skipped the meeting in Washington, calling for more time.
On the Arab League, Sudan which is a member refused to endorse the communique, saying it had reservations. The communique arose from a draft resolution by Egypt which asked members to express solidarity with Cairo on the matter.
Sudan refused to endorse it, saying it was not in its national interest as it had been limited to protect Egypt’s water rights only.
Addis Ababa said Khartoum’s refusal to endorse the statement was an important signal that Sudan supports an amicable solution on the matter.