In Ethiopia, a post-Meles future could bring end to water tension with Egypt

Aug 6, 2012, CAIRO (bikyamasr): An Egyptian ministry of water and irrigation told Bikyamasr.com on Sunday morning that with the combination of Egypt’s new President Mohamed Morsi and the potential of seeing a new leader in Ethiopia, they hoped the tension over Nile River water could be resolved.

“While this can in no way be official policy at this point, I believe that there would be more maneuvering with a new leadership in Ethiopia because there would be the ability to communicate and not be seen as antagonistic,” the official said, adding that they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“Let us be frank about the situation between Egypt and other Nile countries,” the official continued. “We in Egypt have not been the best at compromise so I think overall, there is so much that can be done to help bring countries together, and Ethiopia has been a leader in its criticism of Egypt so starting there would be good.”

The comments come on the heels of continued uncertainty in Ethiopia over the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

In an interview with the state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV), information minister, Bereket Simon, said Zenawi’s health has improved during the past few days following treatment in Europe.

“The Prime Minister’s health is now in much better condition after his treatment” he said adding, “he is taking some rest.”

Simon’s address on state television follows an a broadcast on exiled Ethiopian TV broadcaster ESAT on Monday, claiming Zenawi had died, citing reliable sources in the International Crises Group (ICG).

However, ICG dismissed the claims, saying it has no direct knowledge of Zenawi’s health condition.

Simon said the latest reports are part of opposition “campaigns of fabrications.”

He said “those forces are fabricating speculations about the health of PM Meles to the extent of quoting international organizations like ICG, something the organization denied.”

The last time Zenawi appeared in public during the G20 summit in Mexico in June.

Ethiopian activists continued their online calls for change in the country, with the hope the government will ease its decades long power hold over the country and its political future.

“We definitely are hopeful that this recent episode concerning Meles [Zenawi] and his health will wake up the country that we are the future of Ethiopia,” a student activist in Addis Ababa told Bikyamasr.com on Thursday morning.

With the Nile comes a new set of issues, and with Egypt holding onto a lion’s share of water from the world’s largest river, upstream countries such as Ethiopia have taken it on their own to begin building dams and other water related endeavors, much to the anger of Cairo.

However, officials hope that solutions can be had in the new post-revolution Egypt that could see the growing tension between countries along the Nile reduce.

“While Egypt never wants to mingle in another country’s affairs, a new leadership in Ethiopia would go a long way to changing how things are run, just like it has in Egypt,” the official added.

–bikyamasr