More than 40 percent of Egypt’s 53 million registered voters today voted with an “overwhelming majority” to approve their new constitution.
An official announcement released today suggests the two-day constitutional referendum concluded with the backing of 98.1% of the voters.
The passing of the new constitution by an overwhelming majority and higher voters turnout was seen as a strong stamp of approval for the military-installed government over the overthrown but first freely elected government of Mohamed Morsi.
This new constitution has also amended many of the articles and clauses previously drafted by Morsi that deemed too religious. It also strengthened previous articles on the country’s top national security agenda by introducing ‘Article 44‘ that deal with water, water spending and water pollution.
Article 44, also known as “The Nile” clearly stipulates:
The State commits to protecting the Nile River, maintaining Egypt’s historic rights thereto, rationalizing and maximizing its benefits, not wasting its water or polluting it.
The State commits to protecting its mineral water, to adopting methods appropriate to achieve water safely, and to supporting scientific research in this field.
Every citizen has the right to enjoy the Nile River. It is prohibited to encroach upon it or to harm the river environment. The State guarantees to remove encroachments thereon.
The foregoing is regulated by law.
Ethiopia has fears Egypt might attack or sabotage the construction of the dam. With this amended and unambiguous Article about the Nile, it has every reason to worry that the feud might develop into a confrontation anytime in the near future.
Several rounds of talks have failed to bring the two countries closer. The last meeting that was held in Khartoum between water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan ended two weeks ago with out agreement.
After the failed talks, Egypt’s Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Muttalib accused Ethiopia for its refusal to budge on key issues concerning the controversial dam.
“Egypt have used up all opportunities to negotiate …. and we will not ask [Ethiopia] to return to negotiations,” said Abdel Muttalib.
Despite that, Muttalib asserts that all options are still open for resolving the differences between Egypt and Ethiopia regarding the Renaissance Dam crisis, in order to maintain Egyptian rights to the Nile waters.
Spokesman for Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, Dina Mufti, reportedly commented on the outcome of the new constitution and specifically about ‘Article 44‘ by saying that
“we respect Egyptians right to draft their kind of constitution, but one country’s constitution should not in any way goes against other country’s rights”.
He also said that Ethiopia hasn’t agreed on those so called ‘historical rights’ which were of colonial era treaty and utterly illegal.
Three years of political turmoil in Egypt favors Ethiopia to complete 30% of the dam construction. With Egypt almost finishing clearing up its mess, its zooming range will focus on its old but undeclared existential threat of all times – Ethiopia.
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