Ethiopia Accuses Egypt of Delaying The Talks On Sharing Nile Water

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By Jason McLure

April 20 (Bloomberg) — Ethiopia accused Egypt of stalling talks aimed at reaching an accord over sharing water from the Nile River.

“Egypt has employed a delaying tactic which has dragged the negotiating process,” Shimeles Kemal, a spokesman for the Ethiopian government, told reporters today in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia and six other downstream countries plan to sign a new accord that will redistribute rights to water from the Nile. Egypt and Sudan, the two-largest consumers of Nile water, have refused.

Egypt warned it would withdraw from the Nile Basin Initiative, a World Bank-funded program aimed at resolving disputes over the river’s water, if the seven downstream states sign the accord, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

Nile river

Nile river in Egypt

Egypt claims 55.5 billion cubic meters (14.5 trillion gallons) of the Nile’s annual flow under a 1959 treaty with Sudan, according to the Web site of Egypt’s State Information Service. That agreement didn’t include Ethiopia, which is the source of about 85 percent of the river’s water, or other downstream states.

Ethiopia will sign the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement with Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda by May 14, said Shimeles. The accord would leave open a controversial provision on water security in the hopes that Sudan and Egypt may be persuaded to return to the talks, he said.

–Editors: Paul Richardson, Alastair Reed.

Source: Business Week

Egypt warns against Nile Basin pact

(AFP) –

CAIRO — Egypt insisted Monday on its traditional share of the Nile river and warned basin countries against signing a water-sharing agreement in which it is excluded.

The warning came days after Nile basin countries meeting in Egypt failed to agree on a framework to reallocate shares from the river, a longstanding demand by several up-stream countries.

“Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water is a historic right that Egypt has defended throughout its history,” Mohammed Allam, minister of water resources and irrigation, told parliament.

Allam added that Egypt saw the matter as a national security issue.

“Egypt reserves the right to take whatever course it sees suitable to safeguard its share,” he said.

“If the Nile basin countries unilaterally signed the agreement it would be considered the announcement of the Nile Basin Initiative’s death,” Allam added.

The Nile Basin Initiative, the World Bank funded umbrella group of Nile basin countries, has put off signing a water sharing pact over objections from Egypt and Sudan.

At the heart of the dispute is a 1929 agreement between Egypt and Britain, acting on behalf of its African colonies along the 5,584-kilometre (3,470-mile) river, which gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects.

An agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959 allowed Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of water each year — 87 percent of the Nile’s flow — and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres.

Some of the Nile Basin countries, which include Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, say past treaties are unfair and they want an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects.

Egypt, a mostly arid country that relies on the Nile for the majority of its water, argues up-stream countries could make better use of rainfall and have other sources of water.

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