PM calls on Egypt to return to dialogue

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Addis Ababa, 24 April 2014 (WIC) – Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn called on Egypt to return to the tripartite dialogue with Ethiopia and Sudan to implement IPoE recommendations in the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Prime Minister made the call this morning during a parliament session in which he presented a nine months performance report of his government which addressed a wide range of issues.

“We are working to convince Egyptian authorities to avoid the unnecessary campaigns against the dam and return to the tripartite discussions with Ethiopia and Sudan,” Hailemariam said.

Ever since Ethiopia launched the construction of the 6000MW hydroelectric dam on Nile River, relations between the two countries have soured. Following deadlocks in tripartite discussions, Egypt said it would internationalize the issue and take the case to the United Nations Security Council.

PM Hailemariam told MPs today that his government is prepared to respond to Egypt's attempt to take the dispute over GERD to the UN.

Sudan, the immediate downstream country, has backed what would be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam and Hailemariam hailed relations with Ethiopia’s western neighbor.

“With the signing of 13 agreements through the joint commission of the two countries, our relation with Sudan has grown to a strategic level,” Hailemariam said. “The Renaissance Dam has cemented our strategic partnership.”

Hailemariam also reported to parliament that his government is working closely with other Nile Basin countries for equitable utilization of the river.

Six of the basin countries including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) which rendered colonial era treaties over the utilization of Nile waters null and void.

Ethiopia and Rwanda have ratified the CFA in their respective parliaments and Hailemariam said Kenya, Uganda and Burundi are expected to follow suit “soon”.

“We have launched diplomatic efforts to convince Tanzania to ratify the framework agreement and South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo to join the CFA,” Hailemariam added.

Hailemariam told MPs that the GERD project, whose construction officially began in April 2011, has been accomplished 31 percent adding that the dam will start generating power next year.

Ethiopia expects the dam to not only satisfy domestic power demands but also generate surplus energy for export.    

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