Morsi men plan Ethiopia dam sabotage
05 June 2013, 08:42
Cairo - An aide to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has apologised
after she failed to inform politicians holding talks with the president
that they were live on air, allowing viewers to watch them cook up plans
to sabotage a dam in Ethiopia.
"Due to the importance of the
topic it was decided at the last minute to air the meeting live. I
forgot to inform the participants about the changes," presidential aide
for political affairs Pakinam El-Sharkawi said.
"I apologise for any embarrassment caused to the political leaders," she said on Twitter.
talks, chaired by Morsi, revolved around a report of a tripartite
Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia commission on Ethiopia's decision to divert the
Blue Nile for a massive dam project, sparking fears of a major impact on
downstream states Egypt and Sudan.
Seated around a large table,
the politicians thinking this was a closed meeting began to suggest
ideas for ways to stop the dam project.
Ayman Nour, head of the
liberal Ghad Party, suggested spreading rumours that Egypt was buying
military planes in order to put "pressure" on Ethiopia, he said.
also suggested Cairo send political, intelligence and military teams to
Addis Ababa because "we need to intervene in their domestic affairs."
He slammed Sudan's stance as "disgusting" for not standing by Egypt in stronger terms.
Makhyun, who heads the conservative Islamist Nur Party, said the dam
constituted a "strategic danger for Egypt", requiring Cairo to support
Ethiopian rebels "which would put pressure on the Ethiopian government."
meeting, a huge embarrassment both for the presidency and the
opposition members who attended, caused a storm of ridicule and anger in
the media and prompted even those who didn't attend to apologise on
behalf of Egyptians.
"Sincere apologies to the people and
governments of Ethiopia & Sudan for the irresponsible utterances at
the president's "national dialogue"," wrote leading dissident and former
UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Twitter.
"A scandal in front of the world," read the headline of the independent daily Al-Tahrir.
talk show host Reem Magued, who aired parts of the meeting on her show,
said: "It's true that we asked for transparency from the government but
not like this, not to the point of scandal."
In Addis Ababa,
Minister for Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, said he had not heard
about the incident, but insisted that Ethiopia's relationship with Egypt
"I believe that our relationship will continue in a very healthy way," Alemayehu told AFP.
"We don't believe in military intervention for such peaceful Ethiopian efforts to overcome poverty."
insisted that water levels would not be affected by the construction of
the dam: "Why diversion is a headache for some groups, I am not clear
about. Any layman can understand what river diversion means."
has begun diverting the Blue Nile 500m from its natural course to
construct a $4.2bn hydroelectric project known as Grand Renaissance Dam.
first phase of construction is expected to be complete in three years,
with a capacity of 700MW. Once complete the dam will have a capacity of 6
Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are
guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87% of the
Nile's flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including
Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo's prior
Alemayehu insisted Ethiopia is committed to sharing Nile resources with the region.
agenda is development, Ethiopia is a country which is fighting against
poverty and Ethiopia is a country that is developing with its resources
to benefit its people and wants to live with neighbouring countries
peacefully, sharing its resources," he said.
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