CAIRO – Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Thursday that Egypt’s national security, including its rights, is a red line that cannot be crossed.
In a public speech during the inauguration of the Decent Life initiative in Cairo, El-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s demand that Ethiopia and Sudan sign a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“Let’s make a legally binding agreement that will bring prosperity, security and peace to all of us,” President El-Sisi said.
“We have the economic and military power to impose our will and defend our interests. We have several options and we will consider them according to the situation and the circumstances at time,” he added.
This is the first time the Egyptian President tackled the GERD issue publicly following the United Nations Security Council meeting on the Ethiopian dam last week.
“We managed to put the GERD issue on the international agenda during the UNSC meeting,” El-Sisi said.
“We spoke with the Sudanese and the Ethiopians and made it clear during all our talks that we want the Nile [used] for cooperation and partnership,” he said, adding that Egypt that does not intervene in other countries’ affairs or internal issues.
“We offered to our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia our cooperation and expertise in agriculture and energy on the condition that Egypt’s water rights not to be touched,” El-Sisi said as he spoke informally in his speech about the GERD.
Tension have escalated in recent weeks as Ethiopia has gone ahead with its second filling of the dam in July without reaching an agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
Sisi said he understands that the Egyptian people’s concern is legitimate, but assured them that “Egypt is a big country and we should not be worried.”
El-Sisi’s words concerning the GERD came as he officially inaugurated the first phase of the Decent Life initiative in a public event held at Cairo International Stadium.
El-Sisi’s inaugurated the first phase of the Decent Life initiative in a public event held at Cairo International Stadium.
“I declare the start of Egypt’s new republic tonight,” El-Sisi said in his speech as he announced the launch of the first phase of the Decent Life megaproject in front of thousands of spectators representing the different villages from all over the country that are participating in the initiative.
“This is the greatest project aimed at upgrading and developing the Egyptian countryside,” the Egyptian president said.
In his speech, El-Sisi recounted how the project aims to raise the standard of living of 58 million Egyptians in more than 4,000 villages in the time span of only three years at a cost of more than EGP 700 billion (about $44.6 billion).
“The launch of this promising project is the launch of Egypt’s new republic, the modern civilian state based on citizenship, democracy and stability,” the Egyptian president said.
The Decent Life project was first initiated in 2019 when the president charged the Ministry of Social Solidarity with developing Egypt’s poorest 1,000 villages.
In December 2020, President El-Sisi decided to expand the initiative to include 4,500 villages within the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt’s Vision 2030.
The enormous volume of work required to develop the 4,500 villages means they have been divided into three groups of 1,500 villages each.
The first phase started in January 2021 with a budget of nearly EGP 200 billion (about $12.7 billion) and is due to be completed by the end of FY 2021-22.
During the launch, President El-Sisi honored a group of governorate executives, Decent Life volunteers and members for their work in the past two years.