Morsi to speak at national conference on Ethiopia dam row

Ahram Online, Ahmed Eleiba, Sunday 9 Jun 2013

After last week's televised debacle on Ethiopian dam project, President Mohamed Morsi will attend conference Monday in attempt to limit damage and debate responses

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, center, meets with politicians at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, June 3, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will give a speech Monday evening on the ongoing row with Ethiopia, which lately started diverting the course of the Blue Nile for its Renaissance Dam project, sources told Ahram Online.

Morsi will deliver his speech in Cairo at a national conference organised by Islamist parties to discuss recommendations for a response to Ethiopia's decision to divert the Blue Nile, which many fear could diminish Egypt's share of potable water.

In a meeting hosted by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) last week, Egypt's Islamist parties had called for a new national conference to discuss responses to the Nile dam crisis.

The move has raised concerns in Egypt and Sudan, both dependent on the world's longest river for vital water needs.

Earlier last week, President Morsi met with a group of political figures to discuss the report of the international technical committee tasked with studying the impact of the Ethiopia dam.

The meeting triggered a storm of controversy as various figures present made open threats against Ethiopia unaware that the meeting was being televised live.

Deputy head of the FJP Mohamed El-Beltagy said following the meeting that all political forces, including opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front (which boycotted last week's conference), would be invited to attend Monday's conference.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another FJP source told Ahram Online that the Monday conference was an initiative of the moderate Islamist Wasat Party aiming at damage control after last week's televised debacle.

Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo two weeks ago when it began diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric Renaissance Dam project.

Ethiopia has faced criticism by downtream Nile countries Egypt and Sudan for going ahead with the project without waiting on the recommendations of the technical committee tasked with studying the regional impact of the dam.

Nile riparian countries have argued over the use of the Nile waters for decades. Analysts have repeatedly warned that these disputes could boil over into war.

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