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Nile Dam talks record major progress in Khartoum, Sudanese minister1 minute read

“The three countries have presented proposals on the first filling and the annual operation of the dam” Abbas said.

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Nile Dam talks record major progress in Khartoum, Sudanese minister
KHARTOUM, SUDAN - DECEMBER 23: Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasir Abbas speaks to the press after new round of talks on Ethiopian Nile dam, in Khartoum, Sudan on December 23, 2019. Mahmoud Hjaj / Anadolu Agency Mahmoud Hjaj / ANADOLU AGENCY

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on Sunday recorded a major progress on issues regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister, Yasir Abbas announced.

“The meetings witnessed great exchange of valuable and positive information, resulting in further rapprochement instances of the three countries,” said Abbas at a press conference in Khartoum after the tripartite ministerial meetings.

Abbas said “the three countries have presented proposals on the first filling and the annual operation of the dam,” a Xinxua news agency report quoted him.

The differences will be discussed in the fourth meeting slated for January in Addis Ababa, the minister noted.

Khartoum had on Saturday and Sunday hosted a meeting of the irrigation ministers of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt to discuss issues regarding the GERD. It is the third meeting held at the ministerial level as well as the level of the joint technical committees to reach agreement on the issue of filling and operating the GERD before Jan. 15, 2020.

Representatives of the U.S. Treasury and the World Bank also attended the meeting.

In March 2015, leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed the Declaration of Principles committed to reaching an agreement regarding the GERD through cooperation.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its freshwater, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources of the river.

The GERD, extending on an area of 1,800 square km, is scheduled to be completed in three years at a cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.

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North Africa

Libyan GNA government suspends talks with Haftar forces after Tripoli port attack

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A Libyan oil worker walks infront of smoke rising from an oil facility in northern Libya's Ras Lanouf region on January 23, 2016, after it was set ablaze ealier in the week following fresh attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to seize key port terminals. - Firefighters battled the blaze at the oil facility for a third day, an official said, after an assault by jihadists aiming to seize export terminals. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Libya’s internationally recognized government on Tuesday suspended talks hosted by the United Nations to halt warfare over the capital after eastern forces shelled Tripoli’s port, killing three people and almost hitting a highly explosive gas tanker.

The U.N. has been hosting in Geneva ceasefire talks between officers from the Tripoli government and the eastern-based Libya National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar. The two factions have been trying to take the capital in a near year-long campaign, displacing at least 150,000 people.

The talks had been agreed by foreign powers backing rival parties at a summit in Germany a month ago, an event that has not halted a war cutting oil exports by 1 million barrels a day, a Reuters report said.

Western countries have largely watched passively as Libya fell apart since helping remove Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, opening the door for regional powers such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey to back rival camps fighting for control.

The LNA on Tuesday shelled Tripoli port, saying first it had attacked a Turkish vessel bringing weapons but saying later it had hit an arms depot. Three civilians were killed and five wounded, the Tripoli forces said.

The attack came just as the U.S. ambassador Richard Norland was visiting Haftar in the first trip of a U.S. envoy to eastern Libya since the killing of the U.S. ambassador in a raid blamed on an Islamist militia in 2012.

In response to the LNA attack, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said in a statement it suspended its participation in ceasefire talks “until firm responses are taken against the attacker, and we will respond firmly to the attack in appropriate timing.”

 “Negotiations don’t mean anything without permanent ceasefire guarantees returning the displaced people and the security of the capital and the other cities,” it added.

Tripoli port is a major gateway for food, fuel, wheat and other imports for the capital, which is home to the internationally recognized government. Heavy artillery fire could be heard at night.

PORT STRIKE

State oil firm NOC said it had urgently evacuated all fuel tankers from the port after a missile struck meters away “from a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port”.

“The city does not have operational fuel storage facilities … the consequences will be immediate; hospitals, schools, power stations and other vital services will be disrupted,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement.

Since January, Turkey has sent several ships carrying arms and heavy trucks to Tripoli and Misrata, another western port allied to the Tripoli government, diplomats say. It has also sent fighters from Syria’s civil war to defend Tripoli.

The LNA is allied to a parallel government in eastern Libya supported by the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Russian mercenaries. France has also given some support.

Eastern ports and airports are out of range of the Tripoli forces and its Turkish drones.

Tuesday’s attack on the port unfolded as officers from the Tripoli forces and the LNA held a second round of indirect talks in Geneva to establish a permanent ceasefire. Both sides refused again to sit in the same room, U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame said.

Salame added that he had received conditions from tribesmen allied to eastern forces to lift a blockade of eastern oil export ports, but said these were quite general and would have to be fleshed out in more U.N.-led talks in Geneva next week.

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Business News

Maroc Telecom reports $620 million profit

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Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s largest telecoms operator, has reported an adjusted profit of $620 million in 2019.


The result was achieved on the back of higher mobile data activity in Morocco and in African subsidiaries, according to the company.


The Telecoms total revenue grew by 1.3% to $3.76 billion.
The company says its customer base rose from 11.1% to 67.5 million citing a growth in demand for its mobile broadband and landlines in Morocco.


Maroc Telecom also says it will pay a dividend of 5.54 dirhams per share, totalling 4.9 billion dirhams.
Maroc Telecom, which is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, is 53% controlled by the UAE’s Etisalat, with the Moroccan state owning 22%.


It operates subsidiaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic.

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North Africa

Tunisian PM submits list of cabinet nominees, awaits parliamentary approval

PM-designate Fakhfakh submitted a list of cabinet nominees to President Kais Saied, with Nizar Yaich as finance minister, Nourredine Erray as foreign minister and Imed Hazgui as defence minister.

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Tunisian President Kais Saied in parliament./AFP


Tunisian prime minister-designate, Elyes Fakhfakh on Saturday proposed the line-up of a new government and then said negotiations would continue after the Ennahda party, the biggest in parliament, rejected it with fears of a new election beckoning.

The proposed government must be approved by the deeply fragmented parliament in two weeks or there will be a new election, a Reuters report said.

Fakhfakh submitted a list of cabinet nominees to President Kais Saied, with Nizar Yaich as finance minister, Nourredine Erray as foreign minister and Imed Hazgui as defence minister.

But with the largest parties either opposed to his coalition or unenthusiastic about its composition, Fakhfakh may struggle to gain the strong parliamentary majority needed for any significant political programme.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda party, with 53 seats, said it would only join a unity government that brings together parties from across Tunisia’s political spectrum.

“This decision will put the country in a difficult situation,” Fakhfakh said in speech.

Heart of Tunisia, the second biggest party with 38 seats, also said it would not back the government after Fakhfakh excluded it from the coalition.

Tunisia faces a series of long-term economic challenges which threaten to undermine public trust in the young democracy, and which demand political decisions that could be unpopular.

Since the 2011 revolution, unemployment has been high and growth low, while the government has sunk further into debt with a series of big budget deficits that foreign lenders demand it bring under control.

Elections in September and October returned Saied, a political independent, as president, and a parliament in which Ennahda held fewer than a quarter of the seats.

Ennahda’s nominee for prime minister, Habib Jemli, proposed a coalition government that was rejected by parliament in a confidence vote last month, giving Saied the chance to ask his own candidate, Fakhfakh, to form a cabinet.

If Fakhfakh’s proposal is also rejected by parliament next week, a new parliamentary election must follow within three months.

Fakhfakh had already promised to name a government that would draw only from parties he considered aligned with the goals of the revolution and committed to rooting out corruption.

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