The construction manager of a controversial dam being built on the Nile River in Ethiopiahas been shot dead, police said Thursday, while the country’s prime minister said he was “utterly shocked.”
Semegnew Bekele was discovered inside his car at Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, state broadcaster ETV reported.
“Engineer Semegnew died due to gunshot wounds at the back of the neck,” the chief of the federal police, Zeynu Jemal, told journalists. “A pistol has also been discovered inside the car and we are trying to determine to whom it belongs.”
Semegnew had downplayed Egypt‘s fear that the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will reduce that country’s share of Nile River water. Ethiopia maintains the dam is needed for development, pointing out that 60 million citizens don’t have access to electricity.
The dam is now more than 63 percent complete. Once finished, it will generate about 6,400 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current production of 4,000 megawatts.
Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was “saddened & utterly shocked” to hear of Semegnew’s death, chief of staff Fitsum Arega said on Twitter.
Demonstrators rallied at Meskel Square, calling for the arrest of the perpetrators, while many Ethiopians described Semegnew as a martyr.