Angry Egyptian lawmakers accused the country’s prime minister and government on Monday of doing nothing to prevent Ethiopia from completing a dam that threatens to leave Nile-dependent Egypt with a dangerous water shortage.
Prime Minister Hesham Kandil had just finished addressing parliament about how the government planned to work diplomatically, legally and technically to negotiate with Ethiopia over the dam when the session heated up.
He called the dam’s construction an “act of defiance” and stressed that Egypt will not give “a single drop of water,” but then hurriedly left the chamber despite calls for clarification over how to handle the situation if Ethiopia rejects overtures.
“Egypt will turn to a graveyard” if the dam is completed, geologist and Egyptian lawmaker Khaled Ouda shouted to parliament. “The prime minister didn’t provide anything.”
“We have to stop the construction of this dam first before entering negotiations,” he said.
The crisis started when Ethiopia diverted the flow of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile’s sources, to make way for the dam last month — before a 10-member panel of experts from Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries released a study on the dam’s impact. The move took the Egyptian government by surprise. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s water comes from Ethiopia.
“We need immediate steps day by day but the pace of the government is slow,” said Alaa el-Zawahri, a dams engineer at Cairo University and an expert on a national committee studying the ramifications of the Ethiopian dam. “The prime minister’s talk should be sharper in the face of Ethiopian government’s fiery comments.”
Abdullah Badr, who leads the ultraconservative Salafi caucus in parliament, held up a blank notebook after Kandil’s speech and said: “I have been taking notes and the page for solutions is blank.”
“Where are the studies? Where are the solutions?” He added. “There is nothing more dangerous than this. This is about water security and there are enemies outside and inside — what is the role of the government and what did it do?” he said.
Ethiopian officials have downplayed the effect the dam will have on Egypt, saying it is needed to provide much-needed power for the country’s development.
Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt Kamal Eddin Hassan said on Sunday that Sudan would benefit from the construction of the dam, but that it would not “abandon” Egypt despite reports in the Egyptian press that Egypt’s southern neighbor had allied itself with the Ethiopian project. ..Read More on ABCNews.com
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