US cuts Ethiopia aid over Nile dam as country marks new year, Monday
President of the United States, Donald Trump has announced cut of $100m (£75m) in aid to Ethiopia over the ongoing dispute about the construction of a mega dam on the River Nile, news agency Reuters reports, quoting a US congressional source.
“Up to $100m or so will be affected, of which $26m is funding that expires at the end of the [financial year],” the source told Reuters.
This is as the country is marking the beginning of a new year on Monday, September 7th. Authorities in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa plan to distribute hundreds of thousands of loaves of bread for free as part of celebrations to mark the Ethiopian new year.
The one-day treat, on Monday 7 September, will start five days of celebration to mark the last month of the Ethiopian calendar.
Back in June, the government unveiled a huge bakery on the outskirts of the capital.
Officials say it has the capacity to produce two million mid-size loaves of bread a day.
The US aid cut on Ethiopia is likely to be seen as US President Donald Trump punishing Ethiopia after the country rejected US-led mediation with Egypt and Sudan, the other parties in the dispute.
But an official at the US state department told Financial Times that the decision was temporary:
“The decision to temporarily pause certain assistance for Ethiopia 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,” the official said.
Ethiopia claimed that the US was biased and backed Egypt in the talks.
The aid cut comes just over a month after Ethiopia announced that it had started withholding water in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd).
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has maintained that Ethiopia had every right to construct the dam to meet its power needs.
However, Egypt – which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its fresh water supplies – fears the dam will exacerbate existing shortages.
“We’ve asked them to reconsider and we’re waiting. We hope 117 years of diplomatic relations will not be damaged because of an issue not related to the two countries,” Fitsum Arega said.