Egypt accuses Ethiopia of holding it ‘hostage’ in Nile dam talks

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt said on Saturday that tripartite talks with Ethiopia and Sudan over a controversial mega-dam on the River Nile were deadlocked because of Addis Ababa’s “intransigence”.

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt view it as a threat to essential water supplies.

Spokesperson for Egypt’s Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry Mohamed al-Sebaie said he “is not optimistic about the prospects of achieving a breakthrough during the ongoing negotiations” on the dam in a press release posted to the ministry’s Facebook page.

This was due to “Ethiopia’s intransigence which, once again, became abundantly clear during the ongoing meetings of the ministers of water resources of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan”, he added.

The strongly-worded statement follows days of negotiations over the project amid heightened urgency to reach a deal ahead of Addis Ababa’s plans to start filling the dam in July.

“Ethiopia’s position is that Egypt and Sudan should either sign a text that would make them hostages to Ethiopia’s will and whim or accept Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the GERD,” Sebaie’s statement said.