Sunday, February 6, 2011

British firms help Egypt dictatorship

British companies have been hit for working “hand in glove with dictatorship” in Egypt over their close cooperation with the president Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Egypt has been the scene of mass protests especially in the capital Cairo where millions-strong rallies have been held in the city's central al-Tahrir square to call for an end to Mubarak's 30 year rule.

The protests have led to sporadic violence between the protestors and the security forces some of them in plainclothes raising fears of human rights abuses.

Anti-Egyptian government groups slammed Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile phone operator, for helping Mubarak regime by shutting down the mobile phone network in the Middle Eastern country.

Meanwhile, the social justice group Platform lashed out at BP for using its influence in the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo to persuade the US Congress to withdraw support for a recent motion, which called on Mubarak to hold fair elections and respect human rights.

Platform also hit BP Egypt chairman Hesham Mekawi for his praise for the “stability of the country”.

This comes as BP, which is running oil operations worth $14 billion in Egypt, claimed its presence in Egypt has benefited the entire population there.

"We've been in Egypt for 40-plus years as a major investor in the country's industry, employing a well-trained workforce in quality jobs, supplying significant amounts of energy to meet the rapidly growing population's needs," said a spokesman.

The oil giant is expecting to earn almost 10% of its overall oil production from Egypt in the coming years after discovery of massive fields in the country.

Meanwhile, Vodafone's Collao said they have some of their “infrastructure” damaged while insisting they had no other choice than abiding by Mubarak regime's orders to shut down the mobile network.

"The network was down for 24 hours. We didn't have any option as the government was within its rights under emergency powers that it invoked after the outbreak of demonstrations," the British company said.

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