Egypt: Ethiopia to Proceed With Dam Project As Egypt Fumes

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn yesterday reiterated his government’s stance on the construction of the Renaissance Dam on the River Nile which is heightening tension between his country and Egypt, saying the dam is a major undertaking to lead Ethiopia out of poverty and no one has the power to stop it.

Ethiopian Radio & TV agency report yesterday quoted Prime Minister Hailemariam slamming recent comments by Egyptian politicians, describing such comments as a distraction to escape the strong opposition they face at home, and urged them to reconsider their stand on the dam which can generate 6000 megawatts of electricity.

According to the Ethiopian leader, for Egypt to go to war over the Nile issue “there should be the maddest leaders in the country”. He therefore advised them to come to cooperation and negotiations for the benefit of the two countries and assured of his government’s commitment to cooperate on the issue as long as it recognizes fair share of Ethiopia in the water resources.

Hailemariam noted that Ethiopia had remained cooperative on the Nile water issues and had gone extra mile on the impact study that included experts from the Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia along with four international experts to ensure transparency.

“We are going to continue with our project, I don’t think it will depend on the will of politicians in Egypt,” said Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Ethiopian Prime Minister. “As far as the will of the Ethiopian government and the will of the Ethiopian people are concerned, there shouldn’t be any question whatsoever about the Renaissance Dam, it will continue,” he added.

Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened Monday after Cairo threatened Addis Ababa in connection with the project which is being built along the Blue Nile. Egypt opposes the construction of the $4.8 billion dam, saying it would not tolerate any attempt by Ethiopia to tamper with its water share. Addressing Egyptians on live television, Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi warned that his country was ready to confront any threat that would endanger its water security.

“Egypt’s water security cannot be violated at all. As president of the state, I confirm to you that all options are open”, said Mursi. The Egyptian president however said he was not calling for war but warned that he would not allow any type of threats against water security. Mursi’s comments came after Egyptian politicians intensified pressure on him for not doing enough to stop the project.

Egypt yesterday said it would demand that Ethiopia end construction of the massive dam.

“Other people have a right to seek their own interests. But there must be guarantees that the Ethiopian dam will not harm Egypt, otherwise all options are open,” said Ayman Ali, an Egyptian presidential adviser, in comments carried by the official MENA news agency yesterday.

 
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