ADDIS ABABA – Six members of the United States Congress wrote a letter to urge the Donald Trump not to cut foreign assistance to Ethiopia.
The US suspended a portion of its financial aid to Ethiopia over talks with Egypt and Sudan about a massive dam Addis Ababa is constructing on the Blue Nile River.
Correspondents say the move is likely to be seen as US President Donald Trump punishing Ethiopia after the country rejected US-led mediation with Egypt and Sudan.
“Any such cuts would not only serve to degrade our relationship with a trusted partner but also undermine our position as an honest broker in the fragile ongoing negotiation,” members of the US congress said in a letter sent to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
The congress members also expressed their grave concern over the reported cuts to foreign assistance to Ethiopia.
It was not immediately clear how many millions of dollars in US aid are being cut, or for how long, but a congressional source told Reuters news agency: “Up to $100m or so will be affected, of which $26m is funding that expires at the end of the [financial year].”
The six members of the US Congress who wrote the letter are Rep. Jason Crow, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Colin Allerd, Rep. John Garamendi, Rep. Joyce Beatty and Rep. Gerald E Connollly.
The dam with a capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts is projected to generate will revolutionize the Ethiopian grid and make Ethiopia the largest exporter of electricity in Africa.
“The constriction of the GERD is the product of years of small dollar donations and advanced engineering by the Ethiopian people,” the letter reads.
“The project is a point of national pride for Ethiopians and holds the potential to stimulate economic growth in the region by providing assured access to electricity to millions of Ethiopians,” it says.
The US-Ethiopian relationship dates back more than a hundred years. Members of the Congress said the East African nation is still a major partner to the U.S. particularly security of the region.
Ethiopia is a key contributor to AMISOM and an invaluable ally in combating terrorist groups like al-Shabab, they said, warning that such cuts to assistance to the country would run contrary to US interest in the region and would degrade the strong relationship that “our nations have cultivated over the last century”.
They also said the Trump Administration’s latest move clearly favours one side in a manner that betrays US’s “commitment to being an impartial observer, undermines Ethiopia’s sovereignty, and subverts the work of African Union diplomats”.