Egypt lawmakers lambast PM over Ethiopia dam

Mideast Egypt Ethiopia

An Egyptian fishes with a net in the Nile River, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Egyptian officials tried to cool tensions with Ethiopia Wednesday over the new Nile River dam project by highlighting its “neighborliness” as the Ethiopian prime minister’s spokesman insisted that nothing would stop the dam from being completed upstream from Egypt, which is wholly dependent on Nile River water.


By MAGGIE MICHAEL — Associated Press

June 10, 2013 CAIRO — Angry Egyptian lawmakers accused the country’s prime minister and government on Monday of doing nothing to prevent Ethiopia from completing a dam that threatens to leave Nile-dependent Egypt with a dangerous water shortage.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil had just finished addressing parliament about how the government planned to work diplomatically, legally and technically to negotiate with Ethiopia over the dam when the session heated up.

He called the dam’s construction an “act of defiance” and stressed that Egypt will not give “a single drop of water,” but then hurriedly left the chamber despite calls for clarification over how to handle the situation if Ethiopia rejects overtures.

“Egypt will turn to a graveyard” if the dam is completed, geologist and Egyptian lawmaker Khaled Ouda shouted to parliament. “The prime minister didn’t provide anything.”

“We have to stop the construction of this dam first before entering negotiations,” he said.

Egypt in the past has threatened to go to war over its “historic rights” to the waters of the Nile River. Last week, Egyptian political leaders caused uproar after proposing to aid rebels against the Ethiopian government or even sabotaging the dam itself. Ethiopia demanded an official explanation.

Egypt faces the prospect of its current water shortage worsening when the so-called Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is completed.

Ethiopia’s decision challenges a colonial-era agreement that had given downstream Egypt and Sudan rights to the Nile water, with Egypt taking 55.5 billion cubic meters and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic meters of 84 billion cubic meters, with 10 billion lost to evaporation. That agreement, first signed in 1929, took no account of the eight other nations along the 6,700-kilometer (4,160-mile) river and its basin, which have been agitating for a decade for a more equitable accord.

Ethiopia’s unilateral action seems to ignore the 10-nation Nile Basin Initiative, a regional partnership formed in 1999 that seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner.

Ethiopia is leading a group of five nations threatening to sign a new cooperation agreement without Egypt and Sudan, effectively taking control from Egypt of the Nile, which serves some 238 million people.

Experts estimate that Egypt could lose as much as 20 percent of its Nile water in the three to five years needed for Ethiopia to fill a massive planned reservoir.

Abdullah Badr, who leads the ultraconservative Salafi caucus in parliament, held up a blank notebook after Kandil’s speech and said: “I have been taking notes and the page for solutions is blank.”

“Where are the studies? Where are the solutions?” He added. “There is nothing more dangerous than this. This is about water security and there are enemies outside and inside – what is the role of the government and what did it do?” he said.

Ethiopian officials have downplayed he effect the dam will have on Egypt, saying it is needed to provide much-needed power for the country’s development.

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Posted by on June 10, 2013. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to Egypt lawmakers lambast PM over Ethiopia dam

  1. yisak

    June 10, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Egyptian politicians can be as mad as they prefer to be, but they have to learn that we Ethiopians have much more rights than they do over the NILE.

  2. Ermias

    June 11, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    This is the best Egyptian friendly project. Except that it is not constructed in Egypt I do not see any harm to Egyptians. It simply indicates the Arrogance extremist Egyptian politicians. If you are there not to give a drop you can loose more through other options you anticipate. Other wise we are humans and we know how Nile is important to Egyptians with whom we have been drinking it since creation. Our Blood is the same at least for its water content.