Ethiopia under pressure over Nile dam by Egypt and Sudan

3/18/2021

Ethiopia under pressure over Nile dam by Egypt and  Sudan

Ethiopia’s civil war and the growing international isolation of the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are encouraging Egypt to press harder for concessions in their conflict over a giant dam on the Blue Nile. Cairo’s hand has been strengthened by Ethiopia’s strained relations with Sudan, the third party in the dispute.

Egypt and Sudan have once again called for international mediation to end a long-running dispute over the construction of Ethiopia's dam on the River Nile.

Both countries fear the dam could affect their water supply.

The call came as the Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was on a visit to Sudan for the first time since the overthrow of its former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

During his visit to Khartoum Mr Sisi met Sudan’s civilian and military leaders.

The fact that these were separate meetings points to the somewhat awkward relationship between the different personalities in Sudan's transitional administration.

But it seems they all agreed on one key issue: Ethiopia’s controversial dam.

In a statement after the talks, Egypt and Sudan called for a new round of dialogue with an expanded mediation team to include officials from the African Union, the United States, the EU and the UN.

They said an agreement had to be reached before Ethiopia starts the next stage of filling the dam's huge reservoir, which is expected to begin in June or July.

While Ethiopia says it is willing to keep talking, it wants to stick to the dialogue organised by the African Union and does not want to involve these additional international mediators. So for now the dispute rumbles on.

Egypt has long opposed the construction of the dam because it relies so heavily on the water from the Nile. It’s possible that Sudan could benefit from it though – experts say there would be less flooding and Sudan could get electricity in return.

But in recent months Khartoum has hardened its position taking Egypt’s side.

With the two countries signing military agreements and forming closer and closer ties this could increase the pressure on Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

 

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