Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Cairo over comments by an Addis Ababa official regarding a controversial dam on the Nile, reported Al Jazeera. The two countries are currently locked in a long-standing row over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti had reportedly criticized Egypt’s stance towards the disputed Nile dam. He claimed it manipulated the project to distract attention from internal problems.
“They know the GERD won’t harm them, it’s a diversion from internal problems,” Mufti, the Ethiopian ministry’s spokesman and a former ambassador to Egypt, said on Tuesday.
He said that without the distraction, Egypt and Sudan have many local issues to deal with.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Egyptian ministry condemned Mufti’s statement and called it an attack on the Egyptian state. The ministry accused Addis Ababa of using an aggressive tone to hide Ethiopia’s multiple failures at home and abroad.
“It would have been better for the spokesman to pay attention to the deteriorating situation in his country, which is witnessing multiple conflicts and humanitarian crises that have killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of innocent civilians,” the statement read.
Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been engaged in years-long negotiations over the GERD, which is Africa’s biggest hydroelectric project. The three countries have been having discussions over the dam since 2011 but have failed to reach a deal on the filling issue. The negotiations have been stalled since August.
The dam has raised fears for vital water supplies downstream in Egypt and Sudan. Cairo’s 100 million people get about 90 percent of their fresh water from the Nile River.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, claims the dam is vital for its development and lifting its population of around 107 million out of poverty.