Eritrea Denies Targeting Ethiopia Dam as Egyptian Ties Deepen

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki denied his country’s deepening relations with Egypt signify plans to disrupt neighboring Ethiopia’s construction of Africa’s biggest hydropower dam.

“The claim by the Ethiopian regime that the relation between Eritrea and Egypt is targeting the millennium dam is unfounded,” the Ministry of Information said on its website, citing a May 21 interview with Isaias in the capital, Asmara.

Egypt’s government has claimed Ethiopia’s construction of the hydropower dam on the main tributary of the Nile River contravenes colonial-era treaties that grant it the right to the bulk of the river’s water. Ethiopian officials reject the accords as obsolete and unjust. The plant, being built at a cost of $6.4 billion, is scheduled for completion next year and will produce as much as 6,450 megawatts of power.

Isaias traveled to Cairo in November to meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, when the two discussed deepening relations, the Cairo-based Daily News Egypt newspaper reported.

Ethiopia’s government has said forces receiving support from Egypt and Eritrea are trying to destabilize the country. In October, Communications Minister Getachew Reda said the banned Oromo Liberation Front received financing and training from Egypt. In March, Ethiopian security forces killed 13 members of a rebel group that the government said had crossed into the country from Eritrea.

Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of armed struggle. The two countries fought again in 1998-2000 over the disputed territory of Badme on their border in a conflict that left at least 50,000 people dead.

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