Bashir says Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 'has become a reality’

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Dec 2015

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during a news conference in Cairo October 19, 2014 (Reuters)

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir said that the Ethiopian Renaissance dam has become a reality and that it requires the cooperation of all parties to "ensure its success".

In an interview conducted on Al-Arabiya News Channel Saturday, the Sudanese president also commented on the Halayeb Triangle issue.

The Halayeb Triangle, which constitutes 20,500 square kilometres of land on the Red Sea coast along the Egypt-Sudan border, has been under de facto Egyptian administration since the mid-1990’s.

Al-Bashir claimed that the Triangle has always been part of Sudanese territory.

Egypt insists that Halayeb triangle has always been part of its political boundaries set by an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium in 1899 that defines the Egyptian northern boarders as the 22nd parallel north. 

"Since the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium until our independence, the Triangle of Halayeb remained part of Sudan...but in 1995 Egyptian forces occupied the triangle," says Al-Bashir.

He criticised the Egyptian media for focusing heavily on the Triangle during Egypt's parliamentary elections, a matter that stirred controversy among the Sudanese people.

Triangle of Halayeb is one of the new electoral constituencies in this year's elections. Before this year's elections, Halayeb triangle was part of the North Red Sea constituency. 

"We have since (1995) raised the issue with the UN security council," says Al-Bashir.

Speaking about the Renaissance Dam, Al-Bashir believes that tension started under the rule of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concerns that its share of Nile water could be compromised by Ethiopia's dam project.

"Some Egyptian officials under the rule of Morsi who were non-Islamists appeared on air directly threatening Ethiopia, claiming that they would support the opposition and launch military operations targeting the dam itself," Al-Bashir explained.

He then added that a clear stance of understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between all three countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan) was needed.

Tension between Sudan and Egypt increased when demonstrators in Sudan protested late November the arrest, torture, and killing of Sudanese nationals in Egypt over the past few weeks. 

In mid-November, at least 15 Sudanese migrants trying to cross through Egypt into Israel were found shot dead at the border. Security officials claimed that the migrants were caught in an exchange of fire between security forces and smugglers, AP reported. 

Also in late November, the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo accused Egyptian authorities of unlawfully detaining and beating 16 Sudanese citizens in the past six weeks.

In an attempt to contain the tensions, the Egyptian foreign ministry has met several times with top Sudanese official to stress that there is "no discrimination whatsoever towards Sudanese citizens."

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