FILE- A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in this March 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/Files
CAIRO - 28 October 2019: Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moughzi denied social media rumors claimed that he had no knowledge about the 2015 declaration of principles on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) when he was in office.
In a speech at a sub-session at the Cairo Water Week (CWW) 2019, Moughazi affirmed that he, along with a team of Egyptian technical and legal experts, were tasked to prepare a draft of the Declaration of Principles, with their counterparts from Sudan and Ethiopia in 2014.
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011. A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began in 2014. One year later, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. However, Cairo has recently blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi voiced his aspiration to reach an agreement that bears the common interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia into account. On October 5, 2019, Egyptian Presidency announced that it looks forward to a positive U.S. role in this regard, especially in light of the negotiation deadlock.
During his visit to the Russian city of Sochi to attend the Russia-Africa Forum on October 24, 2019, President Sisi held a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; they agreed upon resuming the work of the technical commission. Ahmed expressed appreciation for Egypt.
The Former Minister Moughazi said that the first meeting for Water Ministers and representatives from the three countries of the Nile Water was held in August 2014 after a one-year hiatus, adding “Since then, experts from three countries have started monthly meetings until reaching the conditions of the declaration of principles.”
Moughazi added that the water and foreign ministers of the three countries, along with their legal and technical experts, held a series of meetings for three consecutive days to re-draft principles until reaching the final form of the formulation, he said.
“Having prepared the draft, I returned to Egypt and decided to bring the most prominent international law experts in Egypt to review this draft,” he said, adding that he met at that time with Chairperson of the Egyptian Association for International Law Mufid Shehab and other professors at the universities of Cairo and Ain Shams to mull the draft. "We sat together until 1 am to review the agreement, word by word and line by line,” he said.
Additional reporting by Asmaa Nassar