Speaking on a number of issues at the AU summit, President Morsi batted away concerns about the Ethiopian Nile dam project
President Mohamed Morsi during his visit to Ethiopia (Photo:Presidency facebook page)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said on Saturday that he had made an agreement with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that both countries' interests would be addressed during the building of the 'Renaissance Dam' in Ethiopia, which many some experts argue will reduce Egypt's share of the Nile’s potable water.
Speaking to Egyptians in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, where he is currently attending the 21st African Union summit, Morsi stated that there is a committee of experts from both countries that will scrutinise all the details and possible ramifications of the controversial dam.
Morsi also made some optimistic statements concerning the future of the Egypt, saying that the country had left behind dictatorships, repression and corruption, in reference to the Mubarak regime.
"Egypt is on the right track to democratic transition," he said. "What will take Egypt to prosperity and development is work, awareness, and production."
"There are many citizens who work hard silently in all sectors to build this nation, including 17 million citizens in the private sector, six million in the public sector and six million farmers who are working in fields to provide the Egyptian people with a harvest and with food," the Islamist president added.
Suez Canal project ‘will lead to turnaround’
Morsi went on to speak about the government’s contentious Suez Canal Corridor (SCC) project, saying it would lead to a turnaround in the country's fortunes.
The SCC project, which will be operated through public-private partnerships, aims to develop Egypt's three canal governorates – Suez, Ismailia and Port Said – by 2017. The project represents a major component of President Morsi's 'renaissance' electoral programme.
"[The project] will attract local, Arab and foreign investments," Morsi said.
Critics of the proposed legislation regulating the project say it will place the Suez Canal outside Egyptian sovereignty and grant investors substantial facilities without offering any returns to workers or the economy.
Rebel campaign ‘undemocratic’
Commenting on the ‘Rebel’ campaign, which aims at "withdrawing confidence" from the Islamist president, Morsi said that those involved in the signature drive should not forget the principle of democracy that the majority choose the president.
"Some people say that I barely got 52 percent of the votes in [last year's] presidential elections [after beating runner up Ahmed Shafiq in the second round], but legally and constitutionally speaking I am the legitimate president."
"Everyone must accept the result of the democratic way, so we do not lose time and miss out on many chances as a result of disagreements."
Campaigners holding posters bearing the word 'Rebel' ('tamarrud' in Arabic) have become a common sight in Cairo's streets and squares in recent days, as have the sight of citizens holding their national identity cards and filling out the forms heeding the campaigners’ calls.
The campaign aims to gather 15 million signatures to pressure Morsi into calling early presidential elections. Organisers claimed at the start of the week to have 3 million signatures so far.