ADIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Ethiopia on Saturday condemned “warring threats” over a huge dam that nearly ended on the Blue Nile River, a day after US President Donald Trump said Egypt would “blow up” a project that called for an existential threat .
Without naming Trump or the United States, a statement by Prime Minister Abi Ahmed’s cabinet came amid protests in Ethiopia over Trump’s latest threat to the dam. Ethiopia’s large $ 4.6 billion Renaissance dam is a source of national pride in lifting millions out of poverty.
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Trump commented, announcing that Sudan would begin to normalize its relations with Israel. Sudan downstream is a party in negotiations with Ethiopia and Egypt on the disputed dam. “They (Egypt) will eventually blow up the dam,” Trump said. “And I said it and I say it clearly and clearly … they will blow up this dam. And they have to do something. “
The U.S. president told the State Department earlier this year to suspend millions of dollars in aid to Ethiopia over the dam dispute, angering Ethiopians who accused the United States of bias during earlier efforts to conclude a deal on the project between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia has moved away from these talks.
“They will never see that money unless they stick to that agreement,” Trump said Friday.
“There are still plenty of statements about Ethiopia’s belligerent threats to succumb to unfair conditions,” the Ethiopian statement said on Saturday. “These threats and undermining of Ethiopian sovereignty are misleading, counterproductive and blatant violations of international law.”
It adds: “Ethiopia will not adhere to aggression of any kind.”
There was no comment from the Egyptian government on Trump’s remarks, but pro-government media covered them widely.
Egypt has repeatedly said it wants to resolve the dispute through diplomatic means, but has said it will use “all available means” to protect the interests of its people.
Ethiopia celebrated the first filling of the dam in August, citing torrential rains, to Egypt’s horror. Ethiopia later banned flights over the dam amid fears of possible military action by Egypt.
Now, with Trump’s new remarks, some Ethiopians are calling on Ethiopian Americans to help him vote outside the polls next month.
A statement from Abi’s office said talks with Egypt and Sudan had shown significant progress since the African Union intervened to monitor them. Trump’s statement could undermine this process, said Abel Abate Demisi, an associate at Chatham House, adding that it proves that the United States has not been an honest broker from the beginning.
Ethiopia says the colossal dam could help it become a major exporter of energy. Egypt depends on the Nile to supply its farmers and a thriving population of 100 million with fresh water.
Negotiators said key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if there is a years-long drought and how the parties will resolve any disputes. Ethiopia rejects binding arbitration at the last stage.
A military strike on the dam would be catastrophic, a water expert warned. The dam already has more than 4.9 billion cubic meters of water in its reservoir, “Abebe Yirga told the Associated Press. “It will affect thousands of people along the way if this huge amount of water gushes out of the dam.”
The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in Sudan to become the Nile, and about 85% of the river’s flow comes from Ethiopia. Officials hope the dam, which has already been completed by more than three-quarters, will reach its full generating capacity in 2023.
Sami Magi in Cairo contributed.