Ethiopia rejects warnings from Egypt and Sudan and adheres to filling the “dam”

Ethiopia rejected Egyptian and Sudanese warnings, confirming that it will proceed with the completion of the construction of the “Renaissance Dam” and the implementation of the second phase of the process of filling the dam reservoir, during the next rainy season, in a measure expected to push the conflict into further escalation.

Addis Ababa began the inauguration of a giant dam on the main tributary of the Nile, with the aim of generating electric power, on April 2, 2011, and Cairo and Khartoum are concerned about its expected impact on their water share.
Yesterday, the Ethiopian government commemorated the tenth anniversary of the launch of the dam, through a seminar attended by senior government officials and parliamentarians. In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demiky Mikkonen said the construction rate was 79 percent.

Cairo and Khartoum, Addis Ababa, are calling for a binding legal agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam in a way that preserves their “water rights”, while Addis Ababa refuses to abide by any agreement that “limits its ability to develop its resources,” as she claimed.

Yesterday, the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister stressed that “no one can deprive Ethiopia of its 86 percent share in the Nile River.”

“The dam is the natural resource for all Ethiopians,” Mekonnen said, noting that “the Ethiopians have gone through many fluctuations over the past ten years to convert this resource into development.”

For his part, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Seleshi Bekele said, “Ethiopia is committed to the principle of adherence to international laws for transboundary waters, but its efforts to cooperate with the negotiating countries have not yielded positive results so far.” Ethiopia plans to implement a second phase of filling the dam lake, during the next rainy season, which begins next July, in a measure that Egypt and Sudan have warned of its “negative repercussions” on their water security unless a prior agreement is reached.

Bekele explained that the next rainy season, which extends from July to next October, will complete the second filling of the Renaissance Dam, stressing that “the second filling period will not be extended in any way.”

The three countries have been negotiating for about 10 years to reach an agreement, but they failed to reach a solution that satisfies all parties. Sudan proposed at the beginning of this month, to resume negotiations under the umbrella of “quadruple mediation”, which includes the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, as well as the African Union, which has been sponsoring the negotiations for several months, without results. It is a proposal that was met with broad Egyptian support, and an Ethiopian rejected.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Dina Mufti, called on all parties to “respect the African Union and its role in mediation.” “We have good relations with the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the United States,” Mufti said, “but our principle remains for the African Union to play its role.” He continued, “So far, no questions have been raised regarding the quadripartite agreement between the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the United States on the Grand Renaissance Dam.”
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