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Ethiopia downplays threat labeling it as a ‘joke’
Egyptian politicians are still upset over Abay. Mortada Mansour, one of three candidates running for the presidential election in Egypt, said he would wage war against Ethiopia if it continues building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Tikur Abay/Blue Nile and also threatened to shut down social media websites.
Ethiopia downplayed his threats saying that the presidential hopefuls are using the project for their own political consumption and asserted that Ethiopia will never stop the construction of GERD for a single minute.
During an interview on the privately-owned al-Hayah TV channel, Mansour addressed Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, a thorny subject between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
Although stressing he would seek international assistance to resolve the dispute between the two states, he warned that he would be willing to go to war to protect Egypt’s share of Nile water.
“Nile water is the source of life in Egypt and I will not allow anyone to diminish our share of it,” he said.
Mansour also said that he would ban social media websites if they posed a threat to national security.
“If I think Twitter and Facebook could lead to the fall of the state, then yes [I would ban them],” said the controversial lawyer and harsh critic of activists who led Egypt’s 2011 uprising.
Mansour who is a former judge and current head of Egypt’s Zamalek football club has also called for a suspension on protests, sit-ins and strikes for a period of one year.
He said if elected president he would also reject the USD 1.3 billion annual U.S. aid in order to make Egyptians “start working and producing,” adding that the aid was meant to support the Camp David peace accord with Israel.
The GERD project that was opened for a detailed study by an international panel of experts’ with the permission of Ethiopia about the project’s impact has been finalized and presented for the three downstream countries [Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt], however Egypt rejected the findings.
Even after the finalization of the study experts from the three countries and other officials have held talks on the tripartite dialogue at Khartoum, Sudan, but the discussion was halted because Egypt demanded that another study should be conducted that incorporates other international experts with the tripartite technical committee.
Since Egypt came with an inflexible stand, the talks have been halted early this year. But Egyptians are going through with the new campaign to lobby the international community to stand against the project.
The GERD project that is being constructed with local financial sources is well underway with over one third of the project completed and it is expected to commence partial power generation in the coming year.
“There are signed international conventions…. there are two agreements, one in 1929 and the other in 1959 to regulate water usage between Egypt and Sudan,” Mansour said at the press conference a few days before he appeared on Egyptian television.
The controversial figure also accused Israel of standing behind the Ethiopian dam project and dismissed popular initiatives to resolve the dispute with Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia, which is a major source of the Nile water that flows to Egypt, implemented any significant project on the river, but the current power generation dam will enable the country to generate 6,000 MW electric when it is fully accomplished. The country has also argued that the project will not have any significant effect on the other downstream countries.
Frequently Ethiopia has stated that it does not have any intention to harm the two downstream countries by blocking the water or using it unfairly. But it praised the mutual benefit the project will have with all the river basin countries