Egypt's Sisi ups pressure for Ethiopia dam deal

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday (March 6) for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam.

On his first visit to Sudan since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, Sisi said talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should aim at reaching an agreement before the next flood season.

Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the dam, which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.

Ethiopia, which says it has every right to use Nile waters long exploited by Egypt, started filling the reservoir behind the dam last summer, after Egypt and Sudan failed to secure a legally binding agreement on how the dam will be operated.

Khartoum fears the dam could increase the risk of flooding and affect the safe operation of its own Nile dams.

Meanwhile, Egypt fears its supplies from the Nile could be hit.

Years of diplomatic talks over the project have repeatedly stalled.

But Egypt and Sudan's positions have drawn closer as Cairo has engaged in a flurry of diplomacy over the issue in the last two years.

The Egyptian president also signalled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over the unrest in the border area of Al-Fashqa, which has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers.

Ethiopia has rejected Sudan's claims to be asserting its rights to control the area under a border agreement from 1903.

Video Transcript

- Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam.

ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- On his first visit to Sudan, since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, Sisi said talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should aim at reaching an agreement before the next flood season. Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the dam, which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.

Ethiopia, which says it has every right to use Nile water, long exploited by Egypt, started filling the reservoir behind the dam last summer, after Egypt and Sudan failed to secure a legally binding agreement on how the dam will be operated. Khartoum fears the dam could increase the risk of flooding and affect the safe operation of its own Nile dams.

Years of diplomatic talks over the project have repeatedly stalled, but Egypt and Sudan's positions have drawn closer, as Cairo has engaged in a flurry of diplomacy over the issue in the last two years. The Egyptian president also signaled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over the unrest in the border area of Al-Fashqa, which has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers.

Ethiopia has rejected Sudan's claims to be asserting its rights to control the area under a border agreement from 1903.