Egypt's Morsi invites opposition to meeting on Nile dam report

Ahram Online, Sunday 2 Jun 2013

President Morsi has asked for representatives from across the political spectrum to look at a report on a controversial new dam project by Ethiopia

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Reuters

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has extended an invitation to a group of prominent Egyptian political figures to look into the recommendations of the technical committee which was tasked with assessing the impact of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam project.

Morsi met on Sunday with the Egyptian members of the technical committee, who presented him with the committee's report. 

Presidential assistant for political affairs Pakinam El-Sharkawi said Sunday on her official Twitter account that Morsi had assigned her to invite several party heads, along with representatives from Al-Azhar University and the Coptic Orthodox Church, to discuss the final report of the committee at the presidential palace in Cairo on Monday.

Last time the president called for a similar meeting with a diverse group of Egyptian leaders was during the crisis in recent weeks when seven Egyptian security officials were kidnapped in Sinai. Most representatives of liberal parties declined the invitation at that time, amid an ongoing deadlock between the latter and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the president hails.

The group of political figures invited to look into the committee’s findings include Mohamed El-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Younis Makhyoun, head of the Salafist-oriented Nour Party, Amr Moussa, head of the liberal Conference Party and Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the liberal Constitution Party.

The invitees also include Hamdeen Sabbahi, head of the leftist Egyptian Popular Current, Amr Hamzawy, a former liberal MP, Mohamed Aboul-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Amr Khaled, Islamic preacher and head of the Masr Party, Hazem Abu-Ismail, a former Salafist presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, the head of the moderate Strong Egypt party, and Ayman Nour, head of the liberal Ghad El-Thawra party.

The international committee looking into the effects of the dam is made up of Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives as well as international experts, and has been studying the impact of the dam project since May 2012.

Last Wednesday, Egypt summoned Ethiopian ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia's diversion of part of the Blue Nile last week as part of the preparation process for the construction of a major new dam, amid criticisms of Ethiopia for going ahead with the project without taking into account the recommendations of the technical committee.

The move to divert part of the Blue Nile, called "historic" by Ethiopian government spokesperson Bereket Simon, has prompted criticism from downstream Egypt, since the step could negatively affect the country’s water quota.

The Blue Nile provides Egypt with the lion's share of its annual 55 billion cubic metres of Nile water.

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