November 20, 2008 (CAIRO) — The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said he was impressed with his recent and historic visit to Southern Sudan that took place last week.
- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaks at the Indo-Egyptian business forum organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi November 17, 2008 (Reuters)
“I was overjoyed when I found out that all Southerners I met spoke Arabic because they were trained in Egypt” Mubarak told journalists aboard his plane returning from an official visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Egypt will open hospitals, schools and a university in South Sudan” he added.
The Egyptian president said his brief trip aimed at supporting unity between North and South Sudan.
Mubarak’s visit to South Sudan is the first for an Egyptian president since 1962 where president Jamal Abdel Nasser visited Juba.
In Juba Mubarak had talks with the First Vice President and southern Sudan government president Salva Kiir Mayadrit on the implementation of a peace deal that Egypt is one of its international guarantors.
Kiir briefed Mubarak on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and urged more pressures on Khartoum.
Mubarak told reporters: “I came to Juba for the first time and it gives you an indication that we are concerned about southern Sudan”.
He said his government would set up a branch of Egypt’s Alexandria University in the southern.
Observers said the surprise visit by Mubarak signaled growing concern by Egypt that South Sudan is leaning towards separation in the 2011 referendum.
Egypt is dependent on the Nile for its water needs. The White Nile, which flows through southern Sudan, provides about 10 percent of the total flow and could provide more if the water management system is improved.
The construction of Jonglei canal is one of the main concerns for Cairo which tries to convince Juba to resume the work on the hydro-construction project. The unpopular canal project was put to a halt in 1983 following the outbreak of the North-South civil war.
The purpose of the canal was to ensure the flow of 4.7 billion cubic meters of water annually, to be equally distributed between Egypt and Sudan.