Aide to Egypt’s Morsi sorry for on-air Ethiopia gaffe

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(AFP June 5, 2013)
An aide to Egyptian President Mohamed 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.

The 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.

He 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.

Yunis 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.”

The 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.

Popular 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 remained “healthy.”

“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.”

He 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.”

Ethiopia has begun diverting the Blue Nile 500 metres (yards) from its natural course to construct a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) hydroelectric project known as Grand Renaissance Dam.

The first phase of construction is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts. Once complete the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

Alemayehu insisted Ethiopia is committed to sharing Nile resources with the region.

“Ethiopia’s 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.

5 Comments

  1. We have to stand with TPLF by what we can to support right now! We have to colect money for the project as soon as possible. Any where around the world you must raise money. we do not have to open this threat to come true for our nation. egypt need heart and courage first.

  2. My Fellow Ethiopian,
    Egypt is just conspiring with the Woyane Junta which already agreed not to complete the dam. Are they not woyane who gave to Egyptian investors a large swath of fertile land around lake Tana, the very source of Nile? They are just playing drama on television aimed at confusing Egyptians and Ethiopian people. Also aimed at giving Woyane an excuse not to complete the dam.

    Questions we all must answer:
    1. Why president Mursi’s office apologized to their politicians who “spoke their mind” rather than to Ethiopia (the target)?
    2. Why Elbaradi, not the president of the country, apologized to Ethiopian people and its government? Doesn’t Elbaradi (a seasoned politician and diplomat) know that he is not the right person to send apology?
    3. Why Ethiopian government didn’t inform Ethiopian people about what is going on Egypt? Why didn’t they complain to the UN?

    Behind all these is plot- selling and buying Ethiopia. Mark my words!

  3. Granting the Egyptian to invest around Lake Tana is a proof for their evil agenda the Weyannes always have had for that region in particular. They care only for MONEY. It is sad.

  4. I couldnot understand why the egyptian television directly tranmitted the meeting to the Egyptian people.In the mean time why the Etv broadcasting directly the diverting of the Nile river to the Ethiopian.What is the hidden aims of both countries.Is there any one explain to me the aim and purpose of this Drama?

  5. Thank you tazabi, anonymous and Birke for the information. Lake Tana? Wu woyane egzeo maherene kirestos what is left?

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