Mbabazi: Egypt Can’t Wage War


try geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 115%;”>“You threaten war when you have the capacity to fight, patient ” said Mbabazi on Saturday.

The Premier was responding to a question from this Corp during the routine Ask The Prime Minister social meetings at his office along Aki Bua road in Nakasero, Kampala.

Mbabazi said Ugandans should not be “worried by Egypt’s threats,” adding, “It would be unreasonable for Egypt to demand Ethiopia not to construct the dam.”

He, however, expressed optimism that “these issues would be solved through the right forum.”

“We have been discussing with Nile basin states on the usage of River Nile. I am happy with the progress of the negotiations. Egypt and Sudan are yet to sign the new agreement on the usage of the Nile but we wait for the day they will come in,” said Mbabazi.

The wrangling over the usage of R. Nile hit peak levels a fortnight ago with President Museveni describing Egypt’s threats as “chauvinistic.”

“It is advisable that those chauvinistic statements coming out of Egypt are restrained and through the Nile Valley Organization rational, not emotional but informed statements, discussions take place. No African wants to hurt Egypt; however, Egypt cannot continue to hurt black Africa and the countries of the tropics of Africa,” warned Museveni.

Earlier, Egyptian leader, Mohammed Morsi, said his country was ready for war if it felt the dam construction would hurt its strategic interests.

“I confirm that all options are open to deal with this subject,” said Morsi recently, adding, “If a single drop of the Nile is lost, our blood will be the alternative. We are not warmongers, but we will never allow anyone to threaten our security.”

However, Egypt and Ethiopian foreign ministers met last week to defuse tensions sparked off by the Nile dispute.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam and sometimes referred to as Hidase Dam, is an under-construction gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia.

It is in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, about 40 km (25 mi) east of the border with Sudan. At 6,000 MW and 63 billion cubic meters, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the 13th or 14th largest in the world sharing the spot with Krasnoyarskaya.

The potential impacts of the dam have been the source of regional controversy. The Government of Egypt, a country which relies heavily on the waters of the Nile, protests the dam and its political leaders have discussed methods to sabotage it, including arming Ethiopian rebels.

Mbabazi weighs in

During the meeting, Mbabazi said regional countries can use River Nile waters in a way that does not “endanger lives in Egypt.”

He also noted that more electricity projects would be carried on River Nile to boost electricity generation in Uganda.

“In Uganda today, our electricity coverage is 12 percent on average. In many rural areas it is 5 percent. People depend on firewood for energy which leads to deforestation. The cutting of trees harms River Nile,” said Mbabazi.

He recounted experiences where Egypt, in connivance with Khartoum, attempted to block the flow of R Nile to South Sudan, leading to the secession war against Sudan.

Mbabazi said Egyptians wanted to drain the wetlands in South Sudan through the Jonglei canal by blocking water from flowing to South Sudan swatches.

“And what happened? South Sudan waged war against Khartoum, which was collaborating with the Egyptian Government and South Sudan is now an independent state,” said Mbabazi.

He said the secession of South Sudan must be a big lesson to Egypt on the effects of war.

The Premier said because Uganda “controls the source of the Nile at Jinja” it has the capacity to refocus the flow of Africa’s longest river.

“But that’s not our intention. We will reach an agreement with Egypt.”

In his budget day speech, Museveni said the threat to the Nile is lack of electricity in the tropics and lack of industrialization.

“Electrification so that people stop using wood fuel and industrialization so that people shift from agriculture to industry and services is the correct way,” said Museveni, adding, “The economy of Ethiopia has been growing in double digits” due to investments in huge energy projects.

“It is, therefore, advisable that the new Government of Egypt and some chauvinistic groups inside Egypt should not repeat the mistakes of the past Egyptian Governments. The biggest threat to the Nile is continued under-development in the tropics i.e. lack of electricity and lack of industrialization. On account of these two, peasants cut the bio-mass for fuel (firewood – enku) and invade the forests to expand primitive agriculture,” the President added.


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