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Nile: River of discord between Egypt and Ethiopia

Christian Fernsby |
Tensions have escalated in the Eastern Nile region, with Egypt taking a complaint to the UN Security Council (UNSC) against Ethiopia's plan to fill a $5billion hydro dam.

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Topics: NILE    EGYPT    ETHIOPIA   

The move has riled a cross-section of people in the region, who believed that Egypt should have exhausted to find regional solutions first by approaching the African Union (AU) – a 55-member pan-African body before knocking at the doors of the UN.

On May 1, Egypt formally complained to the UNSC, accusing Ethiopia of diverting waters of Nile River to fill its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 15 km east of the border with Sudan.

The dam is believed to be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world.

Although Ethiopia has said that it has prepared its response to the complaint, it, however, assailed Egypt for taking the issue to the UNSC and ignoring the AU.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had sought the intervention of the current chairperson of the AU, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to mediate between the countries to settle the water issue.

Talks between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt broke down in February when the US, which was mediating produced a document that was interpreted heavily tilted in favor of Cairo.

Ethiopia contributes 85%of the waters of the Nile River, which traverses along 11 countries before it joins the Mediterranean Sea.

In its complaint to the UNSC, Egypt has accused Ethiopia of adopting a policy of obstructionism and prevarication that has undermined the negotiating process.

“Ethiopia’s overall objective was, and remains, the exercise of unfettered control over the Blue Nile, including by filling and operating the GERD without considering the interests of downstream countries, “said the complaint.

It has also blamed Ethiopia for harming the rights of downstream riparian states by trying to secure an unrestrained right to undertake future projects.

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