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Egypt, Sudan against equitable sharing of Nile water

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June 29, 2007 (NAIROBI) — Egypt and Sudan have failed to agree with other countries on equitable sharing of the Nile River basin waters.

But the ten States sharing the water resource have finally come up with a new framework that allows equitable development and use of the basin.

This comes after final negotiations in Entebbe, Uganda, earlier this week.

The negotiation committee agreed on all 39 articles of a proposed new treaty, except part (b) of Article 14 on water security, which Sudan and Egypt want changed.

The negotiations, which have gone on for over a decade, saw the States overcome a stalemate on previous arrangements made during colonial days.

The arrangements gave veto powers to some countries to regulate any usage of the Nile River waters, Nairobi based the Standard reported.

"The current agreements are considered lopsided and do not provide the requisite level field" said Mr Mutua Katuku, the Water and Irrigation minister.

Egypt and Sudan hold absolute rights to use 100 per cent of the river’s water under agreements reached in 1929 between Egypt and Britain and in 1959 between Egypt and Sudan.

Kenya, however, does not recognize these treaties.

Since Egypt must consent to other nations’ use of the Nile water, most of the other basin countries have not developed projects that use it extensively.

"If the water resources are protected, there will be more than enough water for us and Egypt", said Mr Adan Ahmed Sugow, the Assistant minister for Water and Irrigation.

The new agreement provides a level playing-field that allows mobilisation of the shared water resource for development in the involved states.

About 50 per cent of the country’s population relies entirely on the waters of the upper Nile River Basin.

This makes the use of the basin indispensable in developing agriculture, hydropower and domestic use.

The framework also establishes the Nile River Basin Commission that shall act as a forum for cooperation and a clearinghouse.

The organs of the commission shall include a conference of Heads of State, a Council of Ministers and a Technical Advisory Committee.

The cooperative framework is to be presented to the governments for consideration and ratification.

(The Standard)

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