Egypt criticises Ethiopia over claim Gerd dam dispute has become Arab-African conflict

Foreign Ministry says Addis Ababa wants to drive wedge between Arab and African nations

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Egypt rebuked Ethiopia on Wednesday for branding their dispute over a Nile dam being built by Addis Ababa as an Arab-African conflict, saying the Horn of Africa country had no right to speak for the entire continent.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also disputed what it called "false claims" by Ethiopia that Cairo and Khartoum had agreed with Addis Ababa during past negotiations on details of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or Gerd.

An Arab summit held in Saudi Arabia last week adopted a resolution supporting the position of Egypt and Sudan in their dispute with Ethiopia over the dam.

The Egyptian statement, released by ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, said Ethiopia's assertion that the resolution amounted to an Arab-African dispute was a "desperate attempt to drive a wedge between Arab and African nations".

It also reminded the Ethiopians of Egypt's role in the 1950s and 1960s in support of African liberation movements and its current offer of technical assistance to African nations.

That the African Union is based in Addis Ababa, it added, does not give Ethiopia the right to speak for African countries.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry was responding to a statement by its Ethiopian counterpart on Monday that said Addis Ababa received with dismay news of the Arab League resolution.

"This resolution is an affront to the African Union and its member states ... it runs contrary to the cherished and shared history of the people of Africa and the Arab world," the Ethiopian ministry said. The resolution, it added, was a "deliberate mischaracterisation" of Ethiopia's position over the dam.

Egypt is concerned that the Gerd will reduce its share of the Nile's water, a possibility that would badly hurt its agricultural sector and disrupt its delicate food balance.

Both Egypt and Sudan want Ethiopia to enter a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam. Ethiopia, however, insists that guidelines should suffice. It has filled the dam three times in as many years without giving Cairo and Khartoum advance warning.

It plans a fourth filling this summer.

The last round of negotiations between the three countries collapsed in 2021 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Ethiopian statement accused Egypt of using the Arab League to put pressure on Ethiopia over the Gerd dispute. That, it added, "represents [Egypt's] lack of good faith".

Updated: June 01, 2023, 11:39 AM