AFRICANGLOBE – Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt have soured over Ethiopia’s ongoing construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on a tributary of the Blue Nile, which represents Egypt’s main source of water.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Wednesday that Egypt would be on the losing side if it referred the issue of Ethiopia’s multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
“We’re ready for this and will win politically,” Desalegn told local reporters on Wednesday.
He went on to describe as “useless” Egyptian plans to take the Ethiopian dam file to the UNSC.
The Ethiopian prime minister added that work on the dam was proceeding on schedule despite stalled negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, which Desalegn attributed to Egyptian “intransigence.”
Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt have soured over Ethiopia’s plans to build its Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which represents Egypt’s main source of water.
The controversial project has raised alarm bells in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, regarding its traditional share of Nile water.
Water distribution among Nile basin states has long been based on a colonial-era agreement granting Egypt and Sudan the all of the waters of the Nile and none to other African states.
Ethiopia, for its part, says it must build a series of dams in order to generate electricity, both for local consumption and export.
Addis Ababa insists the new dam can benefit downstream states Sudan and Egypt, which will be invited to purchase electricity thus generated.
Local Egyptian media recently quoted Irrigation Ministry spokesman Khalid Wasif as saying that Egypt would take its complaints against the Ethiopian dam project to the international level.
Desalegn responded by saying that the international community sympathized with his country’s “just” position.
He stressed Ethiopia’s desire for stable relations with Egypt, reiterating his country’s rejection of what he described as the “language of threats” employed against Ethiopia by the Egyptian media.
He went on to rule out the notion of armed conflict between the two countries, describing such an outcome as “impossible.”
Egypt irrigation minister says ‘all options are open’
Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Muttalib on Thursday said that “all options are open” for Egypt regarding Ethiopia’s multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project, which Egypt fears could threaten its traditional share of Nile water.
“Ethiopian decision-makers must bring a solution to the table that won’t compromise Egypt’s share of water,” Abdel-Muttalib told Anadolu Agency.
Abdel-Muttalib stressed that Egypt wouldn’t close the door to negotiations with Addis Ababa, but maintained that the “internationalization” of the crisis remained an option for the Egyptian government in the event of an impasse.
“All options and scenarios are open,” Abdel-Muttalib asserted. “Each party has the right to defend its interests without compromising the other’s rights.”
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