Egypt restates respect for Ethiopia's sovereignty: Ministry of foreign affairs

Ahram Online , AFP , Monday 10 Oct 2016

Cairo denies it interferes in the upstream Nile country's domestic affairs following Ethiopian allegations

Sameh Shoukry-Reuters
A file photo of Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo:Reuters)

Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs restated on Monday Egypt's total respect for Ethiopian sovereignty, and non-interference in the country's internal affairs, following allegations of Egyptian support for anti-government demonstrations by the Oromo ethnic group.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid added that there were ongoing "high level" communications between the two countries to maintain positive outcomes recently achieved in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations.

This is the second statement released by Egypt's foreign ministry in less than 24 hours asserting that Egypt respects Ethiopian sovereignty, after Ethiopia released official statements accusing Egypt of supporting Oromo rebels.

Abu-Zeid's statements come a few hours after Ethiopia's minister of communication Getachew Reda accused the "traditional enemy" Egypt of "training and financing the rebel "Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)."

The Ethiopian government has designated the OLF as a terrorist organisation, and accused it of fomenting the wave of anti-government protests by Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups which have spread across the country in recent weeks.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Sunday following a week of violent anti-government protests by Oromo supporters, which led to deaths and property damage across the country.

Ethiopia said Monday that "foreign enemies" like Egypt were behind an unprecedented wave of protests that has prompted the government to declare a six-month state of emergency.

"We know for a fact that the terrorist group OLF has been receiving all kinds of support from Egypt," said Getachew, as quoted by AFP on Monday.

Getachew claims that the leaders of the OLF used to be based in Asmara (Eritrea), but have transferred their operations to Cairo. The OLF maintains that their headquarters remain in the Eritrean capital.

Last Wednesday Ethiopia's foreign ministry summoned Egypt's ambassador to discuss "the current situation" and answer questions regarding the authenticity of a video that shows unidentified Egyptians hailing the separatist Oromo Liberation Front during a recent public gathering of alleged Oromo supporters in Cairo.

Egypt’s ambassador to Ethiopia Abu Bakr Hefny stated in the meeting that the video "does not reflect the reality at all," describing it as an attempt by third parties to sow discord between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Egypt officially hosts about 9,767 Ethiopian refugees mostly from the Oromo ethnic group, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Getachew also said that "elements in the Egyptian political establishment" are fueling rebellion in Ethiopia, in an effort to promote "historical rights" over access to the River Nile.

Egypt and Ethiopia had witnessed tensions in recent years over the construction of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, a project which Cairo fears will negatively affect Egypt's Nile water share. Addis Ababa maintains that the dam project, which Ethiopia needs to generate electricity, would not harm downstream countries.

In recent months, relations between Cairo and Addis warmed up especially after Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed in September the final contracts for long-awaited technical studies on the potential impact of the dam on downstream countries.

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