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  • South Sudan backs Ethiopia’s Nile dam

    June 14, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Governments of South Sudan has voiced support to a Ethiopia’s controversial Nile Dam project which the country is building along the Nile river, while Addis Ababa minimised Egyptian statements about war against Ethiopia.

    South Sudanese chief negotiator expressed Thursday his country’s position on the construction of the Giant power plant being built some 30-40 Kilometers from Sudan border.

    Speaking to Reporters in Addis Ababa, Pagan Amum, said Ethiopia dam project will benefit not only to Ethiopia but also to the current and future generations of Sudan and Egypt.

    Ethiopia is currently exporting hydropower processes cheap Electricity to Djibouti and Sudan.

    "Ethiopia has the right to use the Nile water in terms of generation of electricity, in terms of irrigation, and the way we see this development is that it is not affecting the interest of Sudan or Egypt", Amum said.

    Newly independent South Sudan which recently became a new member to Nile basin countries has called on Egypt and Ethiopia to cooperate and engage in a dialogue to resolve Nile water Dispute.

    After Ethiopia recently diverted the course of the Nile River, Egyptian politicians are suggesting sabotage including military action and supporting local rebels to destroy the Dam project.

    Ethiopia’s communication Minister, Bereket Simon, said Friday that the threats from Egypt are only psychological feud that aimed to divert the Egyptians away from their internal political instability.

    Simon Down played a potential of war with Egypt over Nile.

    “Egypt doesn’t have firm and justified reason to go to war with Ethiopia” he said adding “even if they have the willing the question is do they have the capacity?’’

    Bereket further stressed that military action will never solve disputes over Nile.

    Last Wednesday Ugandan President Museveni in a national address at the parliament backed the construction of the Dam saying that African nations need such a hydro power plant to spur their economies and to generate clean energy as well as to curb deforestation practices aimed for fuel.

    Museveni further warned Egypt to restrain from what he said was “the chauvinistic statements” coming out of Cairo in connection with Ethiopia’s $ 4.8 billion mega hydropower project which the north African nation fears could diminish its annual water share from Nile River.

    "I have seen statements in the media coming out of the government of Egypt about the commendable work of Ethiopia. What Ethiopia is doing is what governments in Africa should do," he said.

    Khartoum dissociated itself from Egypt and supported the Dam construction saying the three countries should work together to resolve minors problems mentioned in a report prepared by international experts including Egypt and Sudan.


    Ethiopia’s 547-member parliament on Thursday unanimously endorsed the new Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement, making the horn of Africa’s nation the first country to ratify the agreement reached in Uganda in 2010.

    The move comes after days of fierce verbal exchanges between Cairo and Addis Ababa that escalated tensions rising fears to a possible military confrontation.

    The Entebbe agreement which was signed by four Nile basins aims to reverse a colonial-era agreement that has granted Sudan and Egypt lions share to the Rivers water resources of which over 85 % of it originate in Ethiopia.

    Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi are also signatories to the Framework Agreement legislatures of the countries are similarly expected to endorse the cooperative agreement.

    At least six riparian countries have to ratify the agreement to overthrow the colonial era treaty Ethiopia-led other riparian countries argue that it has abandoned their right to equitable utilization of the water resources.

    South Sudan has in the past announced plans to sign the cooperative framework agreement.

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  • Egypt PM accused of leaking confidential data on Nile River

    Qandil accused of leaking confidential data to a Dutch company

    Cairo: Dr Hisham Al Nashwi, Chief Engineer of Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI), accuses Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of leaking information, studies and confidential data about revenues and flooding of the Nile River in Egypt to a Dutch company developing the design of Ethiopian Renaissance.

    Al Nashwi, who is member of Unesco’s International Hydrologic Programme (IHP), said that Qandil, as he was Minister of Irrigation in 2011, helped the Dutch company Deltares to expedite the completion of the design.

    Deltares, according to its website, is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure. Its main focus is on deltas, coastal regions and river basins. It works closely with Dutch government, international governments, knowledge institutes and market parties.

    Deltares launched in March 2011 its programme DEWFORA, Improved Drought Early Warning and Forecasting to strengthen preparedness and adaptation to droughts in Africa. DEWFORA kickoff meeting and General Assembly was held at the premises of Deltares, in the city of Delft the Netherlands, in March 2011. The meeting was attended by representatives from all consortium partners. They include Nile Forecast Centre of Egypt’s MWRI.

    DEWFORA Project has held also two meetings in Sharm Al Shaikh and in Cairo.

    Al Nashwi revealed in an interview on the private channel Sada Al Balad on Monday that Qandil provided the information to Deltares according to an agreement between the European Union and the Dutch company, upon which the EU sponsored 16 governmental and non-governmental organisations with 4.5 million Euro in return of information.

    “According to the agreement, the Dutch company received important studies and confidential information from Qandil, the then Minister of Irrigation. The Ethiopians have used the leaked information, which poses a grave danger to Egypt’s national security, in construction of the Renaissance Dam,” Al Nashwi revealed.

    He added that Ethiopia resorted to Deltares to gather long-needed data, essential for construction of the dam, because it hadn’t qualified experts who could prepare such studies.

    Al Nashwi affirmed that Qandil approved the agreement and ordered his aides to prepare its financial regulations without submission to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) or the Parliament, according to the practice in such agreements. The Ministry already has gained the money after Qandil’s approval in 2011.

    “The agreement made information about wind and floods and other confidential data available to the Ethiopian side easing the construction of the Renaissance Dam,” he continued.

    Qandil denied the allegations and threatened to file a lawsuit against a newspaper published the written text of Al Nashwi’s interview, if it didn’t publish a denial over what he described as “groundless fiction”.

    The PM said in a statement that “all what published relying on the interview with an engineer from Irrigation Ministry is baseless”.

    The PM statement didn’t point out to Al Nashwi himself, who vowed to publish all the documents he has and to file a lawsuit against Qandil.

    Meanwhile, Water resources experts claimed that the Prime Minister has excluded certain experts from a government-formed committee which studied the consequences of constructing the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

    Nader Nour Al Din, a professor of Water Resources at Cairo University’s Faculty of Agriculture, said that the government excluded irrigation experts, who warned against Ethiopian dams, from the committee.

    Nour Al Din accused Qandil of failing to address the dam issue. He added that Qandil was a member of the former Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Abou Zaid’s team when Ethiopia built its first dam over the Tekeze River, which joins the Atbarah River in Sudan. The Atbarah River is a tributary of the Nile.


    — Ayman Sharaf is a journalist based in Cairo

        By Ayman Sharaf, Special to Gulf News
        Published: 15:50 June 13, 2013
    Source: gulfnews.com Read more »
  • 'No Nile, no Egypt', Cairo warns over Ethiopia dam

    CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's foreign minister, vowing not to give up "a single drop of water from the Nile", said on Sunday he would go to Addis Ababa to discuss a giant dam that Ethiopia has begun building in defiance of Cairo's objections.

    Speaking to Egypt's state news agency MENA two days after the Ethiopian government flatly rejected a request from Cairo to halt the project, Mohamed Kamel Amr said Egyptians view any obstacle to the river's flow as a threat to national survival.

    "No Nile - no Egypt," he said, highlighting the pressure on the Egyptian government, whose popularity is wilting in the face of economic troubles, to prevent the hydro power plant cutting already stretched water supplies for its 84 million people.

    Last week, Ethiopia summoned the Egyptian ambassador after politicians in Cairo were shown on television suggesting military action or supporting Ethiopian rebels - a mark of the threat felt in Cairo from the plan to dam the Blue Nile, the tributary that supplies the bulk of water downstream in Egypt.

    "Egypt won't give up on a single drop of water from the Nile or any part of what arrives into Egypt from this water in terms of quantity and quality," Amr told MENA, noting that Egypt has little rain and is effectively desert without its great river.

    Speaking at a news conference, he declined to detail the action Egypt might take next but noted Ethiopian assurances that Africa's biggest hydro station would not cut water supplies.

    "We have a plan for action, which will start soon," Amr said. "We'll talk to Ethiopia and we'll see what comes of it.

    "Ethiopia has said it will not harm Egypt, not even by a liter of water. We are looking at ... this being implemented."

    Countries that share the Nile have long argued over the use of its waters, repeatedly raising fears that the disputes could eventually boil over into war. Egypt, struggling with a shortage of cash and bitter internal political divisions following a 2011 revolution, called on Ethiopia to stop work after engineers began diverting the course of the Blue Nile late last month.

    In Addis Ababa, a government spokesman called that request a "non-starter" and dismissed threats from Cairo of "sabotage" and "destabilization", saying attempts by Egypt under its previous military rulers to undermine Ethiopian leaders had failed.

    The possible downstream effects of the $4.7-billion Grand Renaissance Dam, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, have been disputed and full details are unclear.

    While letting water through such dams - of which Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia already have several - may not reduce its flow greatly, the filling of the reservoir behind any new dam means cutting the river's flow for a time. Evaporation from reservoirs can also permanently reduce water flowing downstream.

    Now 21 percent complete, the new dam on the Blue Nile will eventually have capacity of 6,000 megawatts and is central to Ethiopia's plans to become Africa's leading exporter of power.

    Sudan, which borders Egypt and Ethiopia and also gets much of its water from the Nile, said it supported the project.

    "The Grand Renaissance Dam brings many benefits and blessings for us," Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters in Khartoum.

    He gave no details, but Sudanese officials have said the dam will enable Ethiopia to export power to Sudan, a country with frequent outages and one of its closest allies in Africa.

    (Editing by Alastair Macdonald, Tom Pfeiffer and Kevin Liffey)
    By Shadia Nasralla

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  • Egyptian politicians caught in on-air Ethiopia dam gaffe

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  • ElBaradei calls on Morsy to apologize to Ethiopia

    Mohamed ElBaradei, National Salvation Front Coordinator, called on President Mohamed Morsy to apologise to Ethiopia and Sudan for “the irresponsible utterances” made during the national dialogue session held on Monday to discuss the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis.

    On his Twitter account, ElBaradei –also the President of the Dostour Party– demanded that Morsy offer similar apologies to both countries in the name of Egyptians.

    The live broadcast of the national dialogue on Monday sparked criticism by participants in the dialogue, including Ayman Nour –president of Ghad al-Thawra party. He called for holding responsible those who decided to broadcast on air what was supposed to be a closed dialogue session.

    Pakinam al-Sharqawy, assistant presidential adviser for political affairs, extended her apologies for "any unintended embarrassment caused to any of the political leaders who attended the national dialogue session to discuss the report submitted by the tripartite committee on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam."

    On her Facebook page, Sharqawy said the decision for the live broadcast of the dialogue session was taken just before the session, due to the significance of the Nile water dossier.

    The most controversial contribution during the session was made by Ayman Nour, who suggested that Egypt disseminate rumors that it is seeking advanced aircrafts. He said this is an intelligence technique of intimidation.

    “It might not be realistic, but it will bring results on the diplomatic path”, he said. Nour, however, stated he believes diplomatic efforts will not yield great outcomes: “Ethiopians have taken the decision, and it is highly difficult for them to backtrack”.

    Chairman of the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, Abul Ela Mady, suggested sending army destroyers to the Bab al-Mandab strait and spreading rumors that Egypt is about to strike the dam.

    Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
    Al-Masry Al-Youm
    Source: egyptindependent.com Read more »
  • Ethiopia dam dominates headlines, judges protest

    News about Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and Cairo’s fears over its water supply continued to dominate Thursday’s headlines in Egypt.  Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the judicial authority law returned to the front pages as judges have planned a strike.
    State-owned paper Al-Akhbar reports that Egypt would lose a quarter of its water supply every year during which the path of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile’s two major tributaries, remains altered.
    The country depends on the Nile River for 85 percent of its water supply. The megaproject, however, is expected to deprive Egyptians of 12 billion cubic meters of water per year, according to a report published by a tripartite committee made up of experts from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
    The privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reports that Egypt may resort to a “diplomacy weapon” if it cannot reach common ground with Ethiopia. The paper quotes diplomatic sources who say that Egypt could seek assistance from the Arab League to resolve the crisis.

    Privately owned Al-Tahrir paper writes that Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, refuted claims that the president’s office had asked him to pressure the Ethiopian government to back away from its decision.
    Tawadros told the paper that the Ethiopian and Egyptian Churches share strong historical ties, but that this does not signify that he has the authority to interfere in the decisions of the Ethiopian authorities.
    The paper also talks about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, and it concludes that they want a military intervention.  It also criticizes the government’s diplomatic approach in trying to resolve the issue.
    “Egypt is not weak and it is more than capable of handling the situation if military intervention is needed,” Osama Soliman, member of the Islamist-dominated Shura council, told Al-Tahrir.
    Saber Aboul Fatouh, leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, echoed the same sentiment. He suggests that military planes bomb the dam to ensure the country does not suffer from an acute water shortage.
    Al-Wafd, the liberal newspaper of the opposition Wafd Party, dedicates its front page headline to the planned open-ended sit-in organized by judges in protest of proposed amendments to the judicial authority law.
    The paper says that judges have been gearing up their efforts to confront the challenges posed by the Shura Council, the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament and sole legislative body in the country.
    The paper writes that the Supreme Judiciary Council decided to join members of the Judges Club in staging an open-ended sit-in starting on Friday in protest of the Shura Council’s insistence on deliberating on amendments to the judiciary law.
    The club’s legal defense and youth committees have already started the sit-in on Monday at the High Constitutional Court.
    The controversial bill would lower the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60, which, it is believed, would force out about one quarter of Egypt's 13,000 serving judges.
    Additionally, judges issued a call for people to participate Monday in a popular march that will start at the High Constitutional Court and end at the Shura council, and which will serve to denounce the attacks on the independence of the judiciary.
    Privately-owned daily Youm7 has an exclusive report which claims that Abdel Rahman Mohsen, a member of the 6 April Youth Movement who was arrested for belonging to the protest group Black Bloc, has been subjected to physical torture in jail.
    Mohsen reportedly wrote a letter from prison to one of his friends asking him to expose police brutality and convey his message to the public.
    The letter also says that he and eight other Tora prison detainees, accused of being members of the Black Bloc, have gone on an open-ended hunger strike.  
    Surprisingly, FJP, the mouthpiece of the Brotherhood’s political arm, diverges from its usual bias with one of today’s top headlines: “The return of gasoline queues.”
    The partisan paper depicts the difficulties citizens have been facing in the last three days due to gasoline shortages across the country. The report goes on to blame the government for the disruption in the gasoline supply.

    Source: egyptindependent.com
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