Egypt on GERD ‘smear campaign’

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Addis Ababa, 24 March 2014 (WIC) – The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy accused Egyptian authorities of engaging on a ‘smear campaign’ against the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Following a deadlock in tripartite talks which also included Sudan, Egyptian authorities resorted to a diplomatic campaign aimed at garnering support in their quest to have the construction of the 6000MW hydroelectric dam halted.
“I can call it a smear campaign [rather than a diplomatic campaign] against the GERD,” Fekahmed Negash, Boundary and Transboundary Rivers Affairs Directorate Director at the ministry, said in an exclusive interview with WIC.

“Many of the communication materials they are using are full of wrong and false statements,” Fekahmed said. “Some of them can be considered as an insult to the audience.”

Egyptian officials have been to Europe and African countries, particularly the Nile Basin countries, with the construction of Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam the main focus of their mission.

Through various Egyptian media outlets, authorities have claimed success in asserting their country’s stance towards the construction of the hydroelectric dam.

Fekahmed, however, says the campaign did not achieve the indented purpose and Egyptian authorities have been advised by the countries they visited to go back to the discussion board.

“It is becoming clear now that Egyptian authorities are against the construction of the dam. Which implies that they are against the development of Ethiopia,” Fekahmed said.

Fekahmed said the repeated rhetoric from the Egyptian side is creating bad implications among Ethiopians which he said is ‘not helpful’.  “Our message to them is that what they are doing is counterproductive. We advise them to come back to the discussion board,” he said.
Fekahmed also slammed a recent statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement is described as the country’s official stance on the GERD.

“The statement is not clear. It is difficult to understand the objective. It goes into the usual accusation and for us it is difficult to understand the real message.”

Ethiopia has begun a month long celebration to mark the third year anniversary of the launching of the project in Guba wereda of the Benishangul-Gumuz region. The project was officially inaugurated by the late former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on April 2, 2011 where he delivered a rousing speech.

Three years on, the project is 32 percent complete, according to Simegnew Bekele, project manager of GERD. Fekahmed says the recognition of the project by other countries as Ethiopia’s sovereign right is the biggest success on the diplomatic front during the past three years.

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