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Sudan's Bashir vows to defend Egypt's Nile water share

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (R) and President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir (L)

Sudan's president has promised to protect Egypt's share of the River Nile waters despite Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam scheduled to be completed later this year, the official news agency SUNA reported.

President Omar Al-Bashir made his comments at a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the end of the PM's three-day visit to Khartoum.

The dam has been the centre of a row between Egypt and Ethiopia with Cairo accusing Addis Ababa of endangering its supply of Nile water by building the huge reservoir in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region, near the Sudanese border.


Despite tripartite discussions between the two sides and Sudan, who have been supportive of Ethiopia's right to build, diplomatic tensions over the issue have not been eased with some Egyptian diplomats suggesting that Cairo might destroy the dam through air strikes.

"We will say that we have the agreements which govern the Nile waters, for us here in Sudan, the agreement of 1959, which divided the Nile's water between Sudan and Egypt. And we are completely committed to this agreement to ensure that Egypt's share of the water is not affected by the building of the Renaissance Dam," pledged Al-Bashir.

The 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan protects their respective allotment of the river's waters but does not mention the rights of the eight other Nile Basin countries.

Nile Island in Giza, Cairo, Egypt [Middle East Monitor]

The Ethiopian prime minister, while not directly contradicting Al-Bashir, suggested there was still some way to go to resolve the issue. "We also have other mechanisms to implement the declaration of principles, we have a technical committee, which is led by the ministers of water resources, and irrigation and electricity. I think our ministers are working very hard at that level. We also have an experts' committee working on it, to study those two issues which have been delineated by the international panel of experts to be studied further," he explained

The dam is expected to have a reservoir of about 70 billion cubic metres (about 240 billion cubic feet) which Ethiopia hopes will solve the country's power shortage problems. When built, it will become Africa's biggest hydro-electric power station, producing up to 6,000 megawatts of electricity – at a cost of $4.2 billion.

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