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Egyptians authorise Sisi to resolve Ethiopia dam issue, says official

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on January 13, 2021 [MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on January 13, 2021 [MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Egyptian people are authorising President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to resolve the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GRED) crisis, a parliamentarian said yesterday.

Mahmoud Shaalan told lawmakers that Al-Sisi must "address any danger to the waters of the Nile River."

His remarks came after Ethiopia notified Egypt that it had begun filling the reservoir behind its giant hydropower dam.

"The Parliament and the Egyptian people are fully confident in the ability of the Egyptian army and the political leadership to resolve the most difficult issues and repel any threat to Egyptian national security," he stressed.

After receiving the Ethiopian notification, Irrigation Minister, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, sent an official letter to his Ethiopian counterpart to inform him of his country's "categorical rejection of your [Ethiopia] unilateral move," describing it as a "blatant and dangerous violation of international laws and norms."

READ: Ethiopia begins second filling of dam

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture, and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn't and issued a statement to this effect.

There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.

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