File photo: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam The GERD hasn't stopped the Blue Nile from flowing into the downstream countries during construction (Photo: Bassem Abo Alabass)
Egypt's Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs in a plenary session Wednesday that an ad hoc committee will be formed to discuss the future of negotiations with Ethiopia on the issue of its Renaissance Dam.
“The committee will be headed by deputy speaker Soliman Wahdan, and it will be entrusted with studying the government’s positions and statements on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and then review measures necessary to protect Egypt’s rights in Nile water,” said Abdel-Aal.
Abdel-Aal’s decision comes after Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, foreign minister Sameh Soukri, irrigation and water resources minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati, and housing minister Assem El-Gazzar delivered four statements before parliament on Wednesday on the recent developments in negotiations on GERD.
In his statement, Madbouly criticised “Ethiopia’s intransigence during the latest round of negotiations on GERD.”
“As a result,” said Madbouli, “Egypt will use the Declaration of Principles signed on 23 March 2015 between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to ask for a mediator to resolve the differences,” said Madbouly.
He added the government had spent EGP 110 billion on building several desalination stations. “We spent this amount in three years and it will reach WGP 160 billion to build more stations in the next two years,” said Madbouli, indicating that Egypt will build 60 desalination stations, most of them in Upper Egypt, in the coming three years. “We will also move in other directions to rationalise the use of water,” said Madbouli.
MPs sharply criticised the foreign minister for his poor performance on the GERD crisis. Tarek Radwan, head of parliament’s African affairs Committee, said it had become clear Ethiopia was buying time and trying to impose the status quo on Egypt.
Abdel-Aal urged Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to honour the commitments he declared during a press conference in Cairo in June last year. “He said his country will never allow that Egypt’s Nile water interests be negatively impacted, and that Ethiopia is keen on preserving Egypt’s historical rights in the Nile,” said Abdel-Aal.