Nile dam project not negotiable, says Ethiopia ahead of Egyptian PM Visit
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 10, 2011(ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia will never stop its program to construct the recently launched massive hydro power project in Nile River whether Egyptians welcome it or not, government officials said on Tuesday ahead of the Egyptian prime minister’s visit to Addis Ababa this week.
“There won’t be any reason that would stop or delay the undergoing construction of the Nile Dam. It is not something based on the goodwill of Egyptians” Shimels Kemal, a spokesman for the Communications Ministry of Ethiopia, told Sudan Tribune.
Egypt, which failed to thwart a recent pact on Nile water use signed by six riparian countries, had recently sent a 48-member popular delegation to discuss the issue with Ethiopia despite the latter’s insistence the plan was not intended to harm Egypt.
As goodwill gesture Addis Ababa agreed to postpone ratification of the new treaty.
“Ethiopia only agreed to delay ratifying the new Nile pact until Egypt elects new government, if the upcoming rule in Egypt accepts the project we will push building the dam in joint cooperation” Ethiopian state minister for foreign affairs Birhane Gebrekirstos said.
“However if the new government in Egypt rejects to accept and bends to its old stance the program never stops and we will still carry on the project to end”.
The state Minister said Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, accompanied by senior officials, will arrive in Addis Ababa on Thursday for a two day visit.
According to the official, the Nile will be the main topic of discussion as well as some other bilateral issues.
“The Egyptian delegation will be briefed on the Nile project to illustrate them it doesn’t hurt them and we hope a common understanding will be reached between the two sides”, Gebrekirstos said.
Ethiopia has allowed a team of Sudanese and Egyptian experts along with other Ethiopian and international scientists, to observe the new dam in a bid to convince them the project is not intended to hurt them.