Sudan and Egypt clash over Ethiopia's Nile dam

Mohammed Morsy
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

A rare disagreement has occurred between Sudan and Egypt over the possible impact of an Ethiopia dam on the downstream Nile basin countries.

The controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) could see the course of the Blue Nile tampered with and Egypt has warned it would spare no effort to guarantee its share of the water.

But Sudan is warning of a possible water war between the Nile Basin countries because of Egypt’s ‘provocative' stance.

Sudanese government spokesman Ahmed Bilal has asked Egypt to stop what he called provocations after an Egyptian opposition leader described Khartoum's stand on in the issue as disgusting.

An Egyptian opposition leader, Mr Ayman Nour, publicly described the Sudanese stand on the Nile as disgusting.

Meanwhile, the US has asked the three countries to resolve the problem amicably through dialogue.

Mr Bilal demanded, at a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, that Cairo works with Sudan to safeguard Egypt’s interests instead of resorting to provocations.

He added that Sudan would get many benefits from the dam, including better supply of electricity and year-long regulation of the Blue Nile’s flow.

Egypt has warned that all options were open to protect its share of the Nile waters.

"We cannot let even one drop of Nile water be affected," President Mohammed Morsy said during talks with political and religious leaders broadcast live on state television on Tuesday.

President Morsy also wrote on his official Twitter account: "It is necessary that we take steps to ensure Egyptian water security."

"The current situation necessitates unity among our ranks to prevent any threat against Egypt," added President Morsy.

The border

Egyptian Cabinet also met and issued a statement saying it opposed all projects that could affect the flow of the Nile.

Egypt said it had planned "several scenarios" depending on the outcome of an assessment to be conducted by the three governments.

In Khartoum, the Foreign ministry said Sudan would not be affected by the project, stressing in a statement that there were agreements and consultations between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia.

"Sudan respects the agreements to cooperate with those two countries (Egypt and Ethiopia) in matters that concern sharing the waters of the Nile and sharing mutual revenues," the ministry said.

Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties of 1929 and 1959, which give it 87 per cent of the Nile's flow as well as veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal signed in 2010 by upstream Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allows them to work on river projects without Cairo's prior agreement.

The agreement signed in Uganda has endorsed new water sharing between the Nile basin’s 11 countries.

Ethiopia has begun diverting the Blue Nile 500 metres from its natural course to construct a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) the GERD hydroelectric project.

The first phase is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.

Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

The project, in Ethiopia's northwestern Benishangul-Gumuz region near the border with Sudan, was launched in April 2011 by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in Khartoum to form the mighty Nile River, which flows through Sudan and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean.

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