Sudan reaffirms support for Ethiopia dam project

In a major U-turn last year, Sudan backed an Ethiopian decision to change the course of the Blue Nile.

Sudan reaffirms support for Ethiopia dam project

World Bulletin / News Desk

Sudanese Vice President Bekri Hassan Saleh has reaffirmed his country's support for Ethiopia's multibillion dam construction project, Ethiopian television reported on Tuesday.

"Sudan will derive multiple benefits from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project," Saleh said at a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Saleh had arrived to the Ethiopian capital earlier to attend a regional summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

In a major U-turn last year, Sudan backed an Ethiopian decision to change the course of the Blue Nile – one of the Nile River's most important tributaries – in advance of building a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam, plans for which had already impacted relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia says it needs the dam to generate badly-needed electricity. Egypt, for its part, says the dam will reduce its traditional share of the Nile River, its main source of water.

Last December, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Khartoum would enjoy a large share of the electricity generated by the dam.

A tripartite committee of experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was drawn up in 2011 and tasked with assessing the dam's possible environmental, economic and social impact on downstream states Egypt and Sudan.

The committee's activities came to a standstill in January over differences between Ethiopia and Egypt, the latter of which fears that the $6.4-billion dam will threaten its traditional access to Nile water.

At Tuesday's meeting, Saleh also called on Ethiopia to exert its utmost efforts to end the conflict in neighboring South Sudan, Ethiopian television reported.

Desalegn, for his part, told the Sudanese official that Ethiopia had been working to help South Sudan's warring parties find viable solution to the crisis ever since it erupted last December.

"Ethiopia will continue to put pressure on the South Sudanese rivals through all channels available," he said.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that around one million South Sudanese have been displaced as a result of the violence.

Last month, Kiir and Machar signed an IGAD-mediated peace agreement in Addis Ababa aimed at ending the conflict. The two rivals, however, have continued to accuse one another of breaching the terms of the deal.

Last Mod: 10 Haziran 2014, 17:11
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