Monday, June 3, 2013

Egyptian and Ethiopian PMs agree on three principles

A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony. Ethiopia has begun diverting the Blue Nile as part of a giant dam project, officials said on May 29, 2013 risking potential unease from downstream nations Sudan and Egypt.
(AFP Photo)
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and his Ethiopian counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn agreed on “three principles” in dealing with Ethiopia’s construction of their Grand Renaissance Dam, according to Cabinet Spokesman Alaa Al-Hadidy.
The two prime ministers met in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Fifth International Conference on African Development, which began on Saturday and runs until Monday.
The first principle agreed upon between Qandil and Desalegn was that the dam would not affect Egypt’s share of Nile water. Secondly, Qandil said that Egypt’s position was clear and would strongly uphold and insist that Ethiopia hold its commitments and prior agreements moving forward. The two sides also agreed to wait for a committee made up of Sudanese, Egyptian, and Ethiopian experts to publish a report after inspecting the dam before Egypt would take any further action. The report is expected to detail the effects the dam would have on Egypt and Sudan.

Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris told state-owned news agency MENA on Saturday that when the report was completed, it would be submitted to the three governments, which would react appropriately based on its findings.
The ambassador expressed optimism, adding that the next period would see increased levels of coordination between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to find a consensus surrounding Nile water issues.
The tripartite committee, which also includes other international experts, finished its sixth and final session on Friday in Addis Ababa, issuing its final report which it will submit to the three countries.
Liberal MPs in the Shura Council criticised President Mohamed Morsi’s handling of the developments surrounding the dam on Saturday. Nagy Shehaby criticised the government’s strategy of waiting for the results of the tripartite report, stressing it was nonbinding for all the countries concerned.
Mohamed Hanafy Aboul Enein, the leader of Al-Wafd Party’s parliamentary bloc, blamed Israel, China, and Qatar of influencing the Ethiopian government’s actions, while Sameh Fawzy said Qandil’s cabinet had not done enough to actively resolve the matter, which concerns national security.
President Morsi held a meeting on Thursday with Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Defence Mohamed Bahaa Al-Din, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr, Minister of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Minister of the Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, and General Intelligence Service Director Major General Raafat Shehata to discuss Egypt’s options in handling the potential effect the dam could have on Egypt’s water resources.