Ethiopian prime minister gives warning over dam project

Ayat Al Tawy , Tuesday 22 Oct 2019

Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressing members of parliament on the current situation in the country inside the Parliament buildings, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019 (Photo: AP)

Ethiopia’s prime minister warned on Tuesday that his country is ready mobilise "millions" if it comes to war over the construction of the Grand Rennaisance Ethiopian Dam (GERD)  Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, though he stressed that settling the dispute through negotiations is in everyone's best interest.

“Some say things about use of force [by Egypt]. It should be underlined that no force could stop Ethiopia from building a dam,” AP quoted Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as saying.

“If there is a need to go to war, we could get millions readied. If some could fire a missile, others could use bombs. But that’s not in the best interest of all of us.”

Tensions have been building up between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent weeks after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the $4 billion mega-dam failed to make progress.

Aiby, who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month for his peacemaking efforts with Eritrea and major political reforms at home, made the remarks during a parliament enquiry session. He was answering questions from lawmakers about a number of major issues including the GERD, which Addis Ababa hopes will turn Ethiopia into a regional power hub.

Egypt fears that the speed of the filling of the dam will diminish its water supply, which is crucially dependent on the Nile.

But Ethiopia maintains that the 6,000 megawatts hydroelectric dam, which is nearly 70 percent complete, will not restrict the river’s flow.

Some media figures in Egypt had said that resolving the dam issue, which officials describe as a matter of national security, could require military action.

Abiy stressed that his country is determined to complete the dam project “because it’s an excellent one.”

The Ethiopian leader is expected to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Russian city of Sochi on October 23 and 24.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian presidency said the two leaders agreed in a phone call to overcome any obstacles facing negotiations on the operation of the dam. The call came after El-Sisi had congratulated Abiy on Facebook for winning the Nobel Prize.

Egyptian officials had earlier said that talks over the matter had reached a deadlock and called for international mediation.

Ethiopia has dismissed the calls for mediation, saying it has faith in the trilateral negotiations, which also involve Sudan.

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