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Sisi faces backlash over breakdown of Nile dam negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia

There has been growing criticism on social media of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his government following the failure of negotiations with Ethiopia regarding its controversial Renaissance Dam project.

Egyptians fear that the planned dam will drastically reduce the amount of Nile water flowing to Egypt, causing water shortages and possibly famine.

Exiled construction contractor Mohamed Ali, who last month released videos claiming that President Sisi employed his company to build luxurious palaces for himself with public money, made a new video on Sunday saying that Sisi and his ministers are complicit in cutting off Egypt’s lifeline, threatening them with execution.

Egypt relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming, industry, and water.

Ali’s videos ignited anti-Sisi protests last month and Twitter hashtags started by him quickly went viral. The Egyptian government has responded with repression and arrests.

A new hashtag started by Ali, #Sisi_threw_away_the_Nile_waters has been trending on Twitter.

Activists blamed Sisi for approving the building of the Renaissance Dam while not agreeing the details of water distribution with Ethiopia.

On Twitter, Mohamed Ali wrote “This failure [referring to Sisi] signed an agreement and told us not to worry and there wouldn’t be a problem. He spent four years keeping us in the dark and telling us everything is fine. Today he told us that we’ve reached a dead end [in negotiations]!!”

Ali was referring to a previous agreement signed in 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to study the impact of the Renaissance Dam.

Ali also mocked Sisi for calling for US intervention to solve the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia, saying that President Donald Trump cared nothing for Egypt, referring to Trump’s previous description of Sisi as his “favourite dictator”.

Other social media users also offered sharp criticisms of Sisi.

A Twitter user calling herself Nour Hanim shared a short video featuring a farmer and said “This farmer cursed Sisi for the shortage of water… what would happen if he knew that we are looking forward to a complete drought and a real famine! #Sisi_threw_away_the_Nile_waters”

Another Twitter user said, “If it wasn’t for the agreement on the Renaissance Dam principles that you [Sisi] signed, Ethiopia wouldn’t have been able to build the dam and find finance… you lost our rights to the Nile”.

A Twitter user using the handle, “I am an Egyptian” listed all the problems she thought Egypt was currently facing. “There is no healthcare.. there is no education… there is no dignity.. there is no food… and now there is no water… even if we were occupied by another country we wouldn’t have reached this state.”

A 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan gives Egypt the majority of the Nile’s water. However Ethiopia was not a party to this agreement and does not recognise it.

Egypt also announced on Tuesday that the prime minister, foreign minister and irrigation minister would soon make an “important statement” regarding the dispute with Ethiopia.

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