By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA | Tue Jun 11, 2013 (Reuters) – Ethiopia dismissed Egyptian talk of military action against a giant dam it is building on the Nile as “psychological warfare”, and said on Tuesday it would defend itself and carry on with the work regardless.
Bellicose rhetoric between two of Africa’s most populous and fastest-growing nations has raised fears of conflict over water, though both sides are also pursuing diplomatic compromise over what would be the biggest hydro electric plant on the continent.
Responding to a speech on Monday by President Mohamed Mursi, in which he said Egypt did not want “war” but would keep “all options open” to avoid losing any water, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “This sort of bragging won’t divert our attention.”
The spokesman, Dina Mufti, added: “Ethiopia is not intimidated by Egypt’s psychological warfare and won’t halt the dam’s construction, even for seconds.”
Egypt’s previous military rulers had contingency plans to attack Ethiopian dams that might disrupt the flow of the Nile.
Some politicians were caught on camera last week talking of air strikes or backing Ethiopian rebels after the start of major new work on the project took Cairo by surprise late last month.
Asked if Addis Ababa was looking at measures to defend the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, Dina said: “No country operates without precautions, let alone Ethiopia, which has a track record of defending its independence from all forces of evil.”
Mainly Christian Ethiopia and Muslim Arab Egypt share a long history of suspicion and friction, including over the Nile.
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