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Ethiopian Army General Blames ‘3rd Party’ for Sudan Border Dispute



Ethiopia Chief of General Staff, Birhanu Jula Gelalcha, has blamed “a third party” for his country’s border role with Sudan, saying the intention is to disrupt the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Birhanu – a General with the Ethiopian National Defense Force – said the Sudanese army has been violating Ethiopia’s sovereignty and asked its neighbour to “shun the pressure it has been facing to go into a proxy war”.

He said Sudan should rather commit itself to resolving the border dispute with Ethiopia through dialogue.

The two countries have disagreed on the construction of the GERD being built on the Blue Nile.

Tensions among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, over the dam began to rise after Ethiopia announced last year that it had started filling the reservoir.

In the latest round of talks, which stalled, Sudan said it presented a strongly-worded protest to Ethiopia and the African Union on Ethiopia’s decision to continue filling the dam for the second successive year next July with 13.5 billion cubic meters of water regardless of whether or not an agreement was reached.

Birhanu said the unnamed third party is taking advantage of Ethiopia’s engagement in the north of the country with the Tigray People’s Liberation Force (TPLF) as well as Sudan political transition.

“Our internal problem was one thing and the weakening of Sudan’s internal strength another. These factors resulted in helping the third party to push its agenda. It is a well thought out plan, and the third party has calculated that Sudan would not stand with Ethiopia in the Renaissance Dam negotiation,” he said.

Birhanu noted that border disputes between the two countries were not new and had been resolved peacefully. However, “the current problem was exacerbated by the third party”.

Birhanu said that Ethiopia did not have a desire to go to war with its “historical friend Sudan” and it wanted to solve the problem peacefully.

He called on Sudan to resolve its differences through negotiations by avoiding such “a war trap laid by a third party”.

Birhanu said a year ago, Ethiopia played an important role in resolving the political crisis in Sudan peacefully and without harming the Sudanese people.

He said a meeting was scheduled to be held between the military of the two countries soon.

“In the past, there were occasional border crossings in which sometimes we go in and sometimes they get in. But those had been resolved through discussions. The situation has now escalated as a third party is involved. The object is to lead us into conflict with our neighbours and attain their target. So we don’t have to do what they want. Discussions have now taken place at all levels including military-to-military talks between the two nations.”

The President of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Fattah Al-Burhan, also said this week that his country does not want to go to war with Ethiopia as tension between the two countries rises over incidents on their border.

The Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority has banned flights over the Al-Fashaga border area, east of the city of Gadarif, on the border with Ethiopia.

It said that the ban would be from 14 January until 11 April.

Sudan has accused an Ethiopian military plane of violating its airspace and border with the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs describing the incident as a “dangerous escalation that could have severe consequences and would result in more tension at the border area”.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement demanded that “such hostilities should not be repeated in the future due to their dangerous repercussions on the future of the bilateral relations between the two countries and on the security and stability in the Horn of Africa region”.

Sudan and Ethiopia have also accused each other of other incidents on their common border with Ethiopia accusing Sudan of inflaming the situation.

The Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has “strongly” condemned the “treacherous armed attack” by the Ethiopian militias on Quresha locality, in eastern Sudan, which killed five women and a child.

It said in a statement that two Sudanese women were also missing “due to the aggression”.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, without specifically mentioning Sudan’s complaint, said the Sudanese Armed Forces had been “inflaming” the situation at the border despite Ethiopia’s “magnanimous and tolerant attitude to settle the issues peacefully”.

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Conservation News

Three Endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes Die of Electrocution in Kenya



The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has confirmed that three Rothschild’s giraffes have died after being electrocuted by low-hanging power powerlines at a Soysambu conservancy in Nakuru.

News Central reports that Rothschild’s giraffe are one of the most endangered species of the animal with estimate putting their population at less than 1,600 in the wild.

Kenya has about 600 Rothschild’s.

KWS said officials from the state-owned power distributing company, Kenya Power, would replace the poles.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the height of the electricity poles crossing Soysambu Conservancy are low, below giraffe’s height,” a statement read in part.

Dr Paula Kahumbu, the Producer and Host of Wildlife Warriors CEO WildlifeDirect, alleged in a tweet that the deaths could have been prevented if experts’ advise was heeded.

In another tweet, Kahumbu added that these deaths were not the first, and that they could have been prevented if expert advice had been followed.

“These power lines have been killing giraffes, vultures and flamingos. Advice from experts was ignored. RIAs [Risk Impact Assessments] are notoriously poor on many development projects. Sad that it takes these kinds of deaths to wake some people up!” she tweeted.

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East Africa News

Teachers Strike in Malawi



The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Monday began an indefinite strike action that coincided with school resumption and the new academic year.

The teachers, who are demanding an increase in wages as well as COVID-19 risk allowance, on Monday boycotted classrooms saying they feel unsafe in school environments.

TUM is also demanding that teachers be given personal protective equipment (PPE), training on how to deal with Covid-19 cases within their schools and a plan for social distancing in classrooms.

President Lazarus Chakwera ordered schools to be closed five weeks ago following a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Schools were to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of cases of coronavirus.

Local media is reporting that most students returned home after reporting to school in the morning.

In the town of Mponela, 65km north of the Capital, Lilongwe, learners closed roads with huge stones and tree branches to express solidarity with their teachers.

Police have since dispersed the protest.

Ministry of education spokesman, Chikondi Chimala, said the government was holding meetings with teachers’ representatives to resolve the issue.

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East Africa News

Ethiopia: Six Students Feared Dead in Tigray’s Bus Attack



No fewer than six students are feared dead after gunmen attacked a bus in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

According to reports, there was a shootout between the attackers and soldiers escorting the bus, which was carrying students returning from a graduation ceremony in the Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.

The bus was reportedly stopped many times at road blocks as it made its way from Mekelle.

It is not clear who carried out the attack but this shows Tigray is still volatile months after the federal government said the conflict with the regional authorities was over.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says civilians in Tigray are facing “extremely alarming” hunger as fighting between federal government forces and the regional Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TFPL) remained an obstacle to reaching millions of people with aid.

The Ethiopia/Tigray conflict, now in its fourth month, has killed thousands of people. But little is known about the situation for most of Tigray’s six million people, as journalists are blocked from entering, communications are patchy and many aid workers struggle to obtain permission to enter.

Civilians have suffered and reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region. According to the UN, starvation has become a major concern.

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