Dam talks ‘at crossroads’ after Egypt rejects Ethiopian plea

In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019, a general view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 July 2020

Dam talks ‘at crossroads’ after Egypt rejects Ethiopian plea

  • Cairo is calling for alternative ideas to deal with droughts and years of low revenue

CAIRO: Egypt has rejected a request by Ethiopia to postpone a settlement on points of disagreement surrounding Ethiopia’s controversial Renaissance Dam.

Ethiopia wanted the issue to be referred to a technical committee, which will be formed to oversee implementation of the terms of the agreement.

Ethiopia’s request was submitted on the eighth day of the Renaissance Dam negotiations.

Egypt rejected the request, saying the points of disagreement are major technical issues.

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said that two meetings for the technical and legal teams from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held to try to solve the dispute over the dam.

Negotiations are sponsored by the African Union, representatives of the three countries and observers.

Cairo is calling for alternative ideas to deal with droughts and years of low revenue, the Egyptian ministry said.

Egypt also presented its vision regarding the annual operating rules and refilling, as part of an attempt to resolve technical disagreements between the three countries.

Sudan believes a compromise is possible on the project.

“In general, there has been progress on technical issues,” the Sudanese ministry said.

“There was also an extensive discussion on future development projects on the Nile and its relationship to water use between the three countries.”

The dam, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, is upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water to the country.

When fully operational, it will be the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, providing power to 65 million Ethiopians who currently lack a regular electricity supply.

Ethiopia says it will start filling the dam to coincide with the rainy season, a move Egypt rejects.

SPEEDREAD

Two meetings for the technical and legal teams from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held to try to solve the dispute over the dam, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation

The water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will meet on Sunday, in accordance to the agreed negotiating schedule, to reach solutions on the issue of the Renaissance Dam.

Experts from the three countries are scheduled to meet in a bid to resolve outstanding technical and legal issues surrounding the project.

Mohamed El-Sebai, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, said that the Egyptian delegation put forward a formula for resolving points of disagreement during the recent discussions, in parallel with technical and legal committee meetings.

Ethiopia sought to postpone any discussion until it started to fill the dam. It also set a condition that a technical committee be formed to discuss points of disagreement.

El-Sebai said that the final meetings will be on Sunday, and a final report will be submitted to the African Union.

Observers will sit with the delegations of each country and the technical committees.

He said that Ethiopia believes it is free to administer the Blue Nile and refuses to recognize any other country’s rights.

“They talk about it directly and indirectly, indicating that there is a great delay in the Ethiopian side in the negotiations.”

Former Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy said that there is a consensus in the Egyptian and Sudanese positions regarding some of the main elements in the Renaissance Dam issue, though there is a difference in the priorities of the two countries.

“The Renaissance Dam negotiations are at a crossroads, and some escalation has occurred. I believe that there are opportunities to reach a solution if there is political will, but there will be inevitable clashes if there is no solution,” Fahmy said.


At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

Updated 18 min 18 sec ago

At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

  • Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes
  • The militants had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people after they returned to their homes

EL-ARISH: More than a dozen civilians, including women and children, were killed in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai Peninsula over the past two weeks from explosive devices laid down in their homes by militants, security and medical officials said Sunday.
Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes. The military then secured the villages in August and allowed residents to return to their homes a few weeks later, the officials said.
The militants, however, had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people, including six from the same family late on Saturday, officials said. The causalities included women and children.
At least ten others have been wounded since Oct. 12 and were taken to the town’s hospital for treatment, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Bir Al-Abd was the site of a horrific extremist attack on a mosque in 2017 that killed over 300 worshippers, some of them fathers praying with their young sons. The tribes of North Sinai have been heavily targeted by militants who view their veneration of Muslim saints and shrines as heretical, forcing a mass exodus of residents from the impoverished area that has long been underdeveloped by the government.
Violence and instability there intensified after the military overthrew the country’s president in 2013 amid nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood group’s divisive rule. Extremist militants have since carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.
The conflict has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict has so far not expanded into the southern end of the peninsula where popular Red Sea tourist resorts are located.
In February 2018, the military launched a massive operation in Sinai that also encompassed parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya. Since then, the pace of Daesh attacks in Sinai’s north has diminished.