Ethiopia announces the number of victims of ethnic violence to 239, and Abi Ahmed pledges to fill the Renaissance Dam on time

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The Oromia region demonstrations began after the popular singer Hashalu Hundisa was killed on June 29

The number of victims of the demonstrations and ethnic violence that erupted last week in Ethiopia after the killing of the popular singer Hashalu Hundisa of the Oromo ethnicity, has risen to 239, according to an official Ethiopian police report.

Violence took place in Oromia, the largest province in Ethiopia, after the popular singer was killed on June 29, after he was shot while driving his car.

Authorities arrested two suspects after he was killed in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday evening.

However, the police have not yet mentioned the motive for the assassination, and no charges have been brought against the suspects.

“In view of the disturbances that occurred in the region, nine policemen, five gunmen and 215 civilians were killed,” Mustafa Qadir, the commissioner of the police in the Oromia region, said in comments he made to the country’s official television.

The police of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, announced earlier that ten people were killed in the capital.

The popular singer Hundisa, 34, has emerged as a strong political voice for the Oromo people.

Fill the Renaissance Dam

Abi Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the internal violence taking place in the country “will not dissuade Ethiopia from implementing its plan to start filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam,” despite the opposition of the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, to this step before reaching a final agreement on the dam with Ethiopia.

Abi Ahmed had indicated in statements made last week that the killing of Hondisa came as part of a “conspiracy” aimed at spreading the unrest in Ethiopia, but he did not specify who he believed was behind the conspiracy.

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Abi Ahmed stressed that his country will start filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam to take advantage of the heavy rainy season.

He said: “Our dispute with Egypt over the period of operation and filling the dam will be resolved in the African House.” He added: “We will not harm Egypt and we will start filling the dam to take advantage of the heavy rainy season.”

On Tuesday, Abi Ahmed also repeated previous statements in which he said that the turmoil currently taking place in the country: “aims to disrupt Ethiopia’s plans for the Renaissance Dam.”

“The purpose of the breaking news is to make the Ethiopian government turn a blind eye to the dam,” Abi Ahmed told members of parliament in an accountability session on Tuesday.

Ethiopia has said on more than one occasion that it wants to fill the dam’s reservoir this month, in the middle of the country’s monsoon season, but Egypt and Sudan are pushing for an agreement first on how to operate the giant dam.

The three countries resumed negotiations last week, without producing positive results so far.

Abi Ahmed affirmed Ethiopia’s position that the process of filling the dam is an essential element in its construction, saying: “If Ethiopia does not fill the dam, this means that Ethiopia agreed to demolish the dam.”

Eng. Mohamed El-Sebaei, spokesman for the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources in Egypt, said that the statements of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia regarding filling the Renaissance Dam without damaging Egypt are considered “in violation of all the pledges we are negotiating in the current period.”

For the sixth consecutive day, negotiations for the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will continue today, Wednesday, between the technical and legal delegations of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, sponsored by the African Union, the United States and the European Union.

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, Wednesday’s talks will witness bilateral meetings between each country separately with international observers to present their vision of reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam.

A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said that differences remained with Ethiopia on the legal and technical tracks.

The dispute currently revolves around the rules for filling the dam during droughts, protracted droughts, water scarce years, and refilling the dam lake after these years.

Egypt is demanding that the annual operating curve of the dam be included in the Renaissance Dam Agreement, and that information should be exchanged, and considers that Ethiopia still adheres to the individual operating rules.





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