June 5, 2013
(Reuters) – Egypt will demand Ethiopia stop building a dam on one of the main tributaries of the Nile, a senior government aide said on Wednesday, ramping up a confrontation over the project that
Egypt fears will affect its main source of water.
Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo last week when it began diverting a stretch of the river to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric plant.
Countries that share the river have argued over the use of its waters for decades – and analysts have repeatedly warned that the disputes could eventually boil over into war.
The high stakes involved were underlined on Monday when senior Egyptian politicians were caught on camera advising President Mohamed Mursi to take hostile action to stop the project, and one went as far as suggesting Cairo destroy the dam.
Egypt, which has been involved in years of troubled diplomacy with Ethiopia and other upstream countries, said Ethiopia must now halt work on the dam.
“Demanding that Ethiopia stop construction of the dam it plans to build on the Blue Nile will be our first step,” said Pakinam el-Sharkawy, the presidential aide for political affairs, in comments carried on the state news agency MENA.
“The national committee that will be formed to deal with this issue will determine the steps that
Egypt has to take.”
No one from the Ethiopian government was immediately available to comment.