Nepal | August 04, 2020

Sudan PM, Egyptian official meet amid tensions over Nile dam

Share Now:

CAIRO: Sudan’s prime minister met Tuesday with Egypt’s intelligence chief in the Sudanese capital, the government said, as tensions rise over a colossal hydroelectric dam being built on the Blue Nile.

Sudan’s government gave scant details about the one-day private meeting between Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abbas Kamel, saying only that it came “in the framework of bilateral relations.” Kamel later met with Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council.

This satellite image shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Photo: Maxar Technologies via AP

Relations between the Nile basin countries have acquired intense significance in recent weeks, as a few thousand miles upstream, Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion dam, the largest in Africa, nears completion and fills with heavy seasonal rainfall.

Ethiopia is staking its hopes of becoming a major power exporter and pulling millions out of poverty on the national mega-project. Egypt fears the dam could slice into its share of the Nile, the primary source of freshwater for its 100 million people, with catastrophic consequences. Sudan stands to benefit from cheap electricity and reduced flooding, but has raised fears over the safety of its own smaller dams.

For years the three countries have engaged in repeated rounds of talks over the dam’s operation. The discussions have grown increasingly testy in recent weeks as Ethiopia threatened to fill the reservoir without a long-sought deal. Experts warn a unilateral filling could push the dispute to a critical juncture.

That key moment seemed to arrive last week when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the first filling of the dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir, attributing it to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile. But he stressed that the filling occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”

The announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt, leading Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to address the issue in a televised speech Tuesday at the opening of an industrial complex in Cairo.

“We are negotiating, and negotiation is a battle that will go on,” he said, seeking to reassure the public that Egypt would not be drawn into an arrangement that jeopardizes its vial water supply.

“If there is no success in negotiation, what will we do?” he asked. “No, we will succeed.”

El-Sissi reiterated warnings that Egypt has viewed the Nile as “a matter of life” since ancient times, acknowledging the anxiety gripping the country as “legitimate.”

“I am also concerned,” he said, but warned Egyptians, including popular TV commentators, against throwing around threats of military action, which he said “is not how to serve our nation’s interests.”

El-Sissi’s comments come as African Union-mediated talks, a last-ditch attempt at a deal, drag on. Another round is set to resume next week.

Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects.

Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok chaired a meeting on Tuesday to discuss “Ethiopia’s unilateral filling and its impact on Sudan,” according to a government statement.

In a press conference Monday in the capital, Khartoum, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas criticized the dam’s filling as “a concerning and harmful precedent” in negotiations, leading to “various negative impacts on Sudan.”

He did not elaborate on the impacts, but last week Sudanese authorities said they recorded a startling decline in water levels at their station on the Blue Nile. Sudan’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of formally initiating the filling process by closing the dam gates — a move that gives Ethiopia control over the flow of the water downstream, rendering Egypt and Sudan vulnerable.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

In Pictures: Silent Kumbheshwor mela on Janai Purnima

Lalitpur, August 03 The natural spring at the Kumbheshwor temple complex is believed to have originated from Gosaikunda Lake in Rasuwa district. It is also believed that taking a dip in the pond during Janai Purnima is same as doing so in Gosainkunda. On the occasion of Kumbeshwor Mela or Janai P Read More...

Nepal COVID-19 Update: 418 new cases, 358 recoveries recorded Monday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on the coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. As of today, 398,907 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method have been carried ou Read More...

Thrashing of security guard in Malaysia: Sufferer, assailant Nepali nationals

KATHMANDU: The Embassy of Nepal in Malaysia has issued a statement on the thrashing of a security guard that took place in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur on the morning of July 7. The video showing a security guard being thrashed recently went viral on various social media. The embassy had e Read More...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 18.14 million, death toll at 688,080

LONDON: More than 18.14 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 688,080​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 20 Read More...

Govt to shut hotels, restaurants not adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols in Kathmandu

KATHMANDU: The Government of Nepal has decided to shut operations of hotels and restaurants in the Kathmandu valley which do not adhere to safety protocols as set by authortities. Action will be taken against service providers that are found to be violating the rules such as not maintaining safe Read More...

Lamjung district map

Woman missing after being swept away in a Tuin accident in Lamjung

LAMJUNG: A woman has been reported missing in Dordi Rural Municipality-6, Lamjung, after plunging into a river while using Tuin (wire bridge) to cross it. The missing woman has been identified as Phulmaya Gurung, 32, of Simi village in the municipality. According to Inspector Om Prakash Pun a Read More...

Former king Juan Carlos decides to leave Spain amid corruption allegations

Prosecutors looking into bribe allegations Pressure had been building on royals to take action Former king remains "at the disposal" of prosecutors The 82-year-old helped guide Spain back to democracy MADRID: Spain's former king Juan Carlos has decided to leave his country, a drama Read More...

Ruling party co-chairs stick to their guns

Oli to remain PM till general election, co-chair till General Convention: NCP leader Gokul Baskota Kathmandu, August 3 Co-chairs of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal and KP Sharma Oli held talks today in an attempt to break the current impasse in the party, but failed to Read More...