Prime Minister Nazif to head Egypt delegation to African Union Summit

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif is to head the Egyptian delegation to the African Union (AU) summit in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.  The summit is scheduled to begin tomorrow and end on 27 July. The Algerian, Malawi, Ethiopian and Senegalese Presidents have already arrived in the city.

President Hosni Mubarak will not be attending the summit despite the fact that officials had cited his planned attendance as proof of his good health. No reason for the cancellation was given.

Last week, government officials referred to the 82-year-old’s packed schedule, including the African summit, in an attempt to play down escalating rumors about the president’s deteriorating health. Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad on Wednesday dismissed reports Mubarak was ill and said his staff were “out of breath” trying to keep up with his schedule.

Mubarak’s absence could be also attributed to Egypt’s concerns over an agreement, signed in May by five east African countries to share the waters of the River Nile, a move Cairo considered a threat to its historical share of the river’s resources.
In June, Uganda, along with Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya rejected Egypt’s stance towards the new agreement, warning that the other four Nile Basin countries have one year to join the pact.

Under the previous pact, Egypt, which faces possible water shortages by 2017, is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic meters a year, the lion’s share of the Nile’s total flow of around 84 billion cubic meters.

Discussions about climate change–with 10 African leaders, most importantly the Ethiopian President, participating–will also take place on the sidelines of the African Union summit, to prepare for the next Climate Change Summit to be held in Cancun, Mexico.
A considerable number of African states, including Egypt, have reservations about attempts by Western countries to push them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions before the Western states themselves have begun to regulate their own emissions as agreed in Copenhagen.

Diplomatic sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the purpose of these discussions is to draw up the broad guidelines of the African stance on climate change to be submitted to the AU summit.

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