UN role in Nile dam row 'unhelpful', says Ethiopia

UN role in Nile dam row 'unhelpful', says Ethiopia
2 min read
Ethiopia wants negotiations led by the African Union (AU) which have dragged on for years, describing the pan-African body as an 'important vehicle to address each party's concerns'.
Ethiopia says the Nile River mega-dam project is essential to its development [Getty]

Ethiopia on Tuesday blasted as "unhelpful" the intervention of the United Nations in a long-running dispute over its controversial Nile River mega-dam.

The huge dam, set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric project when completed, has sparked an almost decade-long diplomatic row between Addis Ababa and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development, but Cairo and Khartoum fear it could restrict their citizens' water access.

With no binding agreement, the UN Security Council met on July 8 to broker a deal on the use and management of the $4.2 billion project.

"It is regrettable to witness that the progress of negotiations has been dragged and politicised," Ethiopia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Ethiopia has made its position clear time and again that this is unproductive and bringing the subject matter to the United Nations Security Council was and is unhelpful and far from the mandate of the council."

The Horn of Africa powerhouse instead wants negotiations led by the African Union (AU) which have dragged on for years, describing the pan-African body as an "important vehicle to address each party's concerns".

Read more: With God on our side: Egypt, Ethiopia, and religion in the Nile dam dispute

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had last week told the Security Council that the AU's management of the crisis was at an impasse.

Shoukry called for the council to adopt a draft resolution proposed by Tunisia, requiring a settlement of the dispute within six months, and for Ethiopia to stop the filling of the dam's reservoir.

Ethiopia has however said it will push ahead with a second phase of filling the reservoir behind the $4.2-billion dam in July and August, even if no agreement has been reached.

"Ethiopia is committed to bringing the AU-led trilateral process to a successful conclusion aiming to reach a mutually acceptable outcome," the ministry, urging Egypt and Sudan "to negotiate in good faith".