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Egypt: Parliament Steps Up its Rhetoric against Ethiopia over GERD

Egypt: Parliament Steps Up its Rhetoric against Ethiopia over GERD

Monday, 7 October, 2019 - 07:45
Ethiopian workers on scaffolding during construction of Grand Renaissance Dam near Sudanese-Ethiopian border (AFP/file photo)

Egypt has stepped up its rhetoric against Ethiopia after negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reached a deadlock.

Addis Ababa is building the dam on the Blue Nile, which Cairo says threatens its share of water.

The Egyptian ministry of water resources and irrigation said that talks with Sudan and Ethiopia on the operation of the hydropower dam have reached a stalemate as a result of “inflexibility” by Addis Ababa, and called for international mediation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stressed on Saturday that Egypt is committed to preserving the country’s water share of the Nile river.

“We will continue to take all necessary political procedures in the framework of international law to guarantee this right,” said Sisi.

In 2011, Addis Ababa announced the construction of the $4 billion dam to be the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt fears that the dam will damage its limited share of the Nile water, about 55.5 billion cubic meters, which the country needs for more than 90 percent for its supply of drinking water, irrigation for agriculture and industry.

Egypt’s parliamentary African Affairs Committee said it intends to launch major diplomatic moves, starting with summoning Ethiopia’s ambassador to the parliament to inform him about Egypt's concerns.

Committee Chairman MP Tareq Radwan said they also intend to file complaints with regional and international human rights organizations and send a series of communiques to parliaments around the world over Ethiopia’s violations of international law.

The committee regretted the deadlock, saying the Ethiopian stance contradicts the fifth article of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed on March 23, 2015. It also violates international legislation regarding constructing and managing dams over common rivers.

For eight years, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been engaged in tripartite talks to reach a final agreement on the rules of filling and operating GERD, without reaching any result.

Egypt said it hoped the US would mediate especially after the White House announced that it “supports... ongoing negotiations to reach a cooperative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on filling and operating” the dam.

Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said his country welcomes the White House statement, pointing that the failure of the negotiations to reach tangible progress reflects the need for an effective international role to bring the views of the three countries closer.

The spokesman stressed the importance of reaching a fair and balanced agreement in a manner that allows all three states to benefit from their water resources without harming the interests and rights of other parties.

However, Cairo’s decision to internationalize the crisis remains a “very complicated” task, according to political expert Malik Awni, who explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt could be forced to make major concessions.

He also ruled out the option of international arbitration, which requires the consent of concerned parties, including Ethiopia.

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