Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Ethiopian PM Says Dam Not Meant to Harm Egypt, Sudan

Ethiopian PM Says Dam Not Meant to Harm Egypt, Sudan

Saturday, 26 September, 2020 - 05:00
FILE PHOTO: Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the annual UN gathering of world leaders that the country has “no intention to harm” Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream from a hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River and has led to talk of potential military action.


“I want to make it abundantly clear that we have no intention to harm these countries,” he told the 193-member UN General Assembly in a video statement, pre-recorded due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also used his UN speech this week to describe the dam, Africa’s largest, as an existential threat.


“We are steadfast in our commitment to addressing the concerns of downstream countries and reaching a mutually beneficial outcome in the context of the ongoing AU-led process,” Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy said.


Negotiations have previously faltered over a demand from Egypt and Sudan that any deal should be legally binding, over the mechanism for resolving future disputes, and over how to manage the dam during periods of reduced rainfall or drought.


Egypt says it is dependent on the Nile for more than 90% of its scarce fresh water supplies, and fears the dam could have a devastating effect on its economy.


Abiy told the United Nations that the project contributes to the conservation of water resources, “which would otherwise have been lost to evaporation in downstream countries.”


“What we are essentially doing is to meet our electricity demands from one of the cleanest sources of energy. We cannot afford to continue keeping more than 65 million of our people in the dark,” he said.


Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also used his UN speech this week to describe the dam, Africa’s largest, as an existential threat.


“The Nile River must not be monopolized by one state. For Egypt the Nile water is an existential matter. This, however, does not mean that we want to undermine the rights of our brothers and sisters, sharing with us the Nile basin,” he said, Reuters reported.


“Nevertheless, it is unacceptable for the negotiations to continue forever in an attempt to impose the realities on the ground,” Sisi said.


Earlier, US President Donald Trump has intervened in the dispute between two of African nations, directing the State Department to suspend some aid to Ethiopia over “lack of progress” in talks among the countries.


Negotiations continue on a deal that must address how to resolve future disputes.


Editor Picks

Multimedia