Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has said that a disputed Ethiopian dam on the Nile poses an existential challenge to Egyptians amid a deadlock in negotiations.
“The issue of the [Ethiopian] Renaissance Dam is an existential cause that affects lives of millions of Egyptians,” Al Sissi said Wednesday after talks in Cairo with President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
Burundi is one of the Nile Basin countries.
“We have emphasised our vision to make the River Nile a source of cooperation and development as a life artery for all people of the Nile Basin countries,” the Egyptian leader added.
Al Sissi renewed his call for a binding agreement regulating the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). “This should be away from any unilateral approach that seeks to impose the status quo and ignore people’s basic rights,” Al Sissi said.
In July, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan started online African Union-sponsored negotiations on GERD, as part of a years-long negotiating process. Talks have yet to make headway.
Egyptian officials have repeatedly blamed Ethiopia for the impasse and accused Addis Ababa of playing for time.
The Ethiopian dam has triggered wide fears in Egypt, which relies heavily on the Nile to cover the water needs of its population of over 100 million people.
Ethiopia has repeatedly denied Egyptians’ worries and defended its construction of the 5-billion-dollar dam as being vital for its development and lifting its population of around 107 million out of poverty.