Egypt releases 32 Ethiopian prisoners during PM’s visit

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi strikes a pose with the Ethiopian president Abiy Ahmed

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi pardoned 30 Ethiopians that were sentenced by the Egyptian courts, and allowed them to depart the country with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who ended his two-day visit to Cairo on Monday morning.

Sources told Egypt Today on June 11 that the 30 Ethiopians left Egypt with Ahmed on his private plane after receiving presidential pardon.

The Ethiopian prime minister arrived in Cairo on Sunday. He met with Sisi where they held a joint press conference at AI Ittihadia palace. During the conference, Ahmed expressed his happiness to visit Egypt and meet President Sisi, revealing that they discussed boosting bilateral relations as well as issues of mutual concern.

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Ahmed, swore during his speech that his country will not cause any harm to Egypt’s Nile water share, referring to the Egyptian concerns over the negative impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

In his word during the joint press conference with President Sisi at Ittihadia palace, Ahmed stated, “We have no intention to cause any harm to Egypt and its people. We want to benefit from the Nile River without affecting the interest of Egyptians. We want to rebuild confidence between our nations.” 

For his part, President Sisi said that “both countries went a long way in re-building confidence and we will exert more efforts in facing common challenges, and concluding an agreement in regard with the GERD that ensures the Nile water shares of both countries.”

On Monday morning, Ahmed departed Egypt with his accompanying delegation and the 30-pardoned Ethiopians, according to the sources. Egypt fears the GERD project will reduce its share from the water that runs to its fields from the Nile reservoirs in Ethiopia’s highlands.

Egypt depends entirely on Nile water for drinking and irrigation purposes, reiterating consistently its “historical right” to the river guaranteed in the 1929 and 1959 Nile agreements, which granted the country 87 percent of Nile water and the right to veto or approve irrigation projects in the upstream countries.