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Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia Resume Talks Over Disputed Nile dam

Previous talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, have failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-metre tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

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Sudan’s water ministry says Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agree to hold further talks this month on the resolution of their long-running dispute over Ethiopia’s huge dam on the Blue Nile called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

On Sunday, all three countries held a new round of talks via video conference in the virtual presence of South African officials, as well as other international observers. The Union’s rotating chair is currently held by South Africa

Previous talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, have failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-metre tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydropower project which broke ground in 2011.

“The meeting concluded … “

that this week will be devoted to bilateral talks between the three countries, the experts, and the observers,” Sudan’s water ministry said in a statement.

Talks will pave the way this week, “for the resumption of tripartite negotiations on Sunday January 10 in the hope of concluding by the end of January”, the statement noted.

Egypt fears that Ethiopia’s dam would severely cut its water share.

Egypt depends on the Nile for about 97 per cent of its irrigation and drinking water.

Sudan on the other hand hopes the dam will help solve its flooding issues, but has also warned that millions of lives would be at “great risk” if no binding agreement was reached.

Ethiopia says the power needs of its population will be achieved using the hydroelectric power produced at the dam.

It insists that this will not affect downstream countries’ water supply.

The Nile, which the world’s longest river, is a lifeline that supplies both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.

The Nile’s main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, make a convergence at the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.

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North Africa

Armed Men Attempt to Storm Governor’s House in Darfur, Sudan

The governor said in a statement that the attempted attack sought to create “instability and chaos” in the province.

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A provincial governor in Sudan’s restive Darfur region was attacked last night. Armed men opened fire overnight, trying to storm his residence but were repelled by guards, officials said.

The attempted attack on West Darfur Gov. Mohammed Abdalla al-Douma’s residence in the provincial capital of El Geneina, heightened tensions in the restive region where tribal violence has led to the death of about 230 people since last week. No injuries or damage were however reported in last night’s attempted attack.

The governor said in a statement that the attempted attack sought to create “instability and chaos” in the province. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, and the governor’s report did not say who the attackers were.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, a military official said that the attackers opened fire on the heavily fortified residence, prompting the guards to return fire. The exchange lasted for over an hour.

Earlier in the week, officials from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum visited to the governor in Genena to discuss the tribal clashes.

The fighting between members of the Arab Rizeigat tribe and the non-Arab Massalit tribe resulted from a fistfight on Friday in a Genena camp for displaced people. Some 160 people on both sides, including women and children have died as a result of the clash.

At least 90,000 people have also been displaced as a result of the fighting.  The displaced persons have now taken shelter in schools and government buildings and nearby villages, according to the United Nations.

A 24-hour curfew in all of the provinces in the Western Darfur region has been imposed by authorities, and the military and police have been authorized to use “all necessary force” to regain order.

Security reinforcements have also been deployed by the central government in Khartoum.

On Monday, clashes between the Rizeigat and non-Arab Falata tribe in South Darfur province, killed around 70 people, according to Gov. Mousa Mahdi. The clashes were sparked by the killing of a shepherd in al-Twaiyel village, 85 kilometers south of Nyala, the provincial capital.

While visiting the village on Tuesday, Mahdi vowed to bring to justice those who instigated the violence.

The latest violent clashes in Darfur region poses a challenge to Sudan’s transitional government which has been struggling to end civil war in the country’s far-flung areas.

It also is a major test to the government’s ability to protect civilians following the end of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in Darfur this month.

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Tunisians Reignite ‘Arab Spring’ Chants As Protests Continue

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Thousands of Tunisian youths lined the capital city, Tunis, and the cradle of the Arab Spring protests, Sidi Bouzid on Tuesday as they called for an end to the government of the day.

Youths hurled stones and petrol bombs on the streets, as they blocked roads in Tunis to pass a message against the government.

They have complained about lack of jobs, raving unemployment and economic hardship, similar to the complaints of ten years ago.

The government, led by President Kais Saied has called for the cessation of the protests. He has also affirmed the law will take its place should the protests continue as hundreds of youths have been held round the country.

There are ongoing protests in Sfax, one of Tunisia’s biggest cities as youths reincarnate the Arab Spring chants of  “the people want the fall of the regime”.

Ten years after the Arab Spring revolution, Tunisians are yet to see the dividends of everything they called for.

Prime Minister, Hisham Mechichi described the protests as “legitimate” but said the youths should go home, in order to avoid a breakdown of law and order.

“Your voice is heard and your anger is legitimate… Do not allow saboteurs among you,” he said while addressing protesters in a televised address.

“The crisis is real and the anger is legitimate and so are the protests, but the violence is unacceptable and we will confront it with the force of law,” 

President Saied has issued warnings to the protesting youths as he asked them not to touch public and private properties.

“Do not attack or insult anyone and do not damage private property or state institutions,” he said.

Tunisians have said there’s an underestimation of the reach of the protests with government not reacting as youths would expect.

The Arab Spring of 2011 began in Tunisia in the town of Sidi Bouzid before seeping through the rest of North Africa and the Middle East.

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Bread Crisis: Libya’s Central Bank Rejects New Letters of Credit for Flour

Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

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In response to the Head of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj’s regarding requests for new letters of credit to import flour, the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer has on Sunday issued a statement.

Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

The General Union of Bakers in Tripoli shut down all bakeries in the city on Saturday, citing an increase in the price of ingredients. This move was justified by the union’s head, Saeed Boukhreiss who claimed the new prices were necessary due to the new prices of flour being linked to lack of supply by the mills’ company.  

The Governor explained that the PM’s call represents a grave breach of the country’s financial law and public spending controls, stipulated in the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). He further stated that the state’s balance of foreign exchange with the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) is linked to sovereign revenues.

Al-Kabeer also countered rumours suggesting that it had opened letters of credits for importing unnecessary food items.

He further reminds the GNA officials on their obligation to control the country’s borders and ports to curb the smuggling of subsidised goods, especially flour and fuel.

Bakeries reopened Monday after the Bakers’ Union reached an agreement with the control authorities. Bread prices have been impacted largely by flour shortage, the prices of wheat which increased globally by 40% and the new exchange rate of the Libyan dinar to U.S. dollar on the confectionary sector. Bakeries may face dire straits in the coming months if state authorities do not resolve the problem satisfactorily.

In 2018, inflationary pressure and dwindling oil prices among other factors saw bakeries in Tripoli abruptly shut for two weeks, thereby triggering a food crisis around bread – a staple for many Libyans.

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