Egypt slammed on Monday statements by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over a plan to build over 100 dams across the country, describing the statements as a continuation of “a regrettable approach” that disregards the rules of international law.
According to an official statement, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez voiced Egypt’s rejection of the statements by Ahmed, adding that such statements show again Ethiopia’s ill intent over the Nile River.
It said the statements reveal Ethiopia’s engagement with the Nile River and other international rivers it shares with neighboring countries as “inland rivers that fall under its sovereignty and are exploited to serve its interests.”
He said that the intentions revealed in Ahmed’s statements violate the rules of applicable international norms that regulate utilising international rivers and oblige Ethiopia to respect the rights of other riparian river states.
The Egyptian statement comes one day after the Ethiopian PM said his country will build over 100 small and medium dams in various regional states in the coming new fiscal year.
His statements came during the inauguration of the first phase of the Adama-Awash expressway, where he stressed that working together was the only means of resisting any forces against Ethiopia, according to the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
Ahmed’s statements risk an aggravation of tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, which remain in deadlock in negotiations over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) over the lack of an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
Ethiopia plans to hold 13.5 billion cubic metres of water during the second filling of the GERD’s reservoir in July, despite the objections of downstream countries Egypt and Sudan over the move in the absence of a legally binding instrument.
A Sudanese official told Reuters last week that Ethiopia began filling the reservoir in early May, as further construction work on the GERD had allowed the second filling to begin.
Ethiopia has denied that it began the second filling of the dam, yet remains unwavering in its plan for the filling over the summer, even without a deal with Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiation mechanism, which includes international quartet mediation, has led to the collapse of the Kinshasa talks sponsored by the African Union in April.
The three countries have resorted to international diplomacy in the past weeks, briefing regional and international counterparts on their stances and developments in the latest deadlock in negotiations.
Egypt has warned that the second filling will lead to tensions in the region and will cause instability in East Africa and the Horn of Africa.
Egypt’s 100 million-plus population depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its fresh water.
Sudan fears the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires dam and the lives of 20 million Sudanese citizens at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating the operation and filling of GERD is not reached before the second filling.
It warned that it will take legal action if Ethiopia moves forward with the second filling of the GERD in July without first signing a legally binding agreement.