Sudan's Bashir 'ignored' impact of Ethiopia's dam on Egypt: Egyptian official

Ahram Online , Friday 6 Dec 2013

Sudan's support for the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia prompts Egyptian response

This April 2, 2013, photo shows the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Asosa Region, Ethiopia (Photo: AP)

An Egyptian official has criticised Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for his recent expression of support for the construction of a massive new dam on a Nile tributary in Ethiopia.

Al-Bashir said on Wednesday that Sudan supported the Grand Renaissance Dam project, which is currently under construction, because it would "benefit all Nile Basin states." Egypt has expressed strong reservations about the dam and its possible effect on the volume of water that reaches Sudan and Egypt, both downstream from Ethiopia.

“We are not against the pros [of the dam] and we didn’t ignore it, but Al-Bashir did not explain how we could deal with the cons,” an official at the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture told London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The ministerial official, who asked not to be named, further said that that the Sudanese leader has ignored the impact of the dam on Egypt’s share of the Nile water and the fate of water-sharing agreements.

Tensions escalated between Egypt and Ethiopia in May, when Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile as part of the construction process.

At one point, Egyptian politicians were caught on camera at a meeting with then-president Mohamed Morsi, suggesting that the dam be sabotaged.

Construction of the $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) Grand Renaissance Dam has nevertheless gone ahead. When complete, it is set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric dam.

For decades, Egypt held veto rights over all upstream projects, following powers granted by a 1929 colonial-era treaty with Britain.

Egypt's subsequent 1959 deal with Sudan gave the two downstream countries more than 90 percent of the Nile's water.

The negotiations – involving Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia – regarding the construction of a giant dam in Ethiopia are expected to resume in Khartoum starting Sunday.

A similar meeting had been held on 4 November involving technical representatives from the three countries, but no tangible results were reached.

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