Friday, April 22, 2011

Ethiopia says won't allow Egypt to examine new dam

Aaron Maasho in Reuters: Ethiopia will deny Egypt a chance to examine a new mega dam it is building on the Nile unless Cairo inks a new deal relinquishing its veto powers over allocation of the river's waters, an official said on Thursday. Egypt has been locked for more than a decade in a dispute with other countries through which the river passes, refusing changes to colonial-era treaties contested by Ethiopia and other upstream nations.

Under the pact signed in 1929, Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic meters a year, the lion's share of the Nile's total flow of around 84 billion cubic meters, despite the fact some 85 percent of the water originates in Ethiopia. Cairo has said it will not recognize a new agreement signed last May, and Ethiopia, ignoring Egypt's long-standing concerns, started work on the $4.78 billion dam this month.

"We are ready to negotiate and engage ourselves at the higher and technical level, but we are an independent country," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said when asked if Addis Ababa was willing to allow Cairo to inspect the dam over fears it could affect the flow of the river.

"The cooperative framework agreement (signed by upstream countries) gives this option (examination) to all countries, so we have to engage ourselves to an agreement where we can work together equally," he told a news conference…

Guarding government soldier at the Blue Nile Falls (Tiss Isat Falls), Ethiopia, shot by CT Snow, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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