Home | News    Wednesday 19 May 2010

Eritrea’s President says new Nile treaty "wrong agreement"

By Tesfa Alem Tekle

May 18, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — Eritrean president Issayas Afeworki has voiced support to Egypt over Ethiopia on Nile river new treaty. However Egyptian economists have strongly opposed Eritrea’s support over Ethiopia saying a superficial advice calculated to incite conflicts between the two nations.

Eritrea's Isaias AfwerkiAccording to a recently released publication by the Eritrean Ministry of Information, President Issayas Afwerki has reached an agreement with Egypt on various bilateral matters.

President Issayas Afewerki said that the Nile Littoral States (Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda etc) are however making the "wrong agreements and regulations" on the use of the Nile river.

In an interview with Egyptian Television, Issayas said the position of upstream Nile countries "not only aggravates the situation but also creates tension.”

On Friday, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, four of the nine upstream Nile countries which gathered in the Ugandan town of Entebbe inked a new treaty on the equitable sharing of the Nile waters despite strong opposition from Sudan and Egypt which sweeps over 85% of the river waters.

The new treaty allows the upstream nations to build hydroelectric dams and large scale irrigation projects along the Nile River. Some Egyptian and Sudanese officials have reacted angrily over the new treaty and demanded that Ethiopia and other upstream nations use the rain instead of the river, despite failing rains in Ethiopia have caused several droughts that killed tens of thousands of people.

Following President Issayas’s remarks, Egyptian economists are reported to have opposed Eritrea’s support over Ethiopia on Nile issue as only politically motivated aimed to meet self-interest by roughening the existing smooth ties between Addis Ababa and Cairo.

They said Ethiopia and Egypt have currently smooth political relations and should preserve it through table discussion if they have any differences on the Nile river issue in table discussion in a way that benefits both nations fairly.

The Egyptian economists suggested that no need to go to war to get economic advantage of the Nile River which may lead to political crisis amongst African nations, particularly the horn which have share in the Nile issue.

President Issayas Afwerki, president of Eritrea, is supporting Egypt only to damage Ethiopia and to gain political calculations but has no any scientific foundations, they added.

The Eritrea’s president’s advice to Egypt over the Nile river issue is unscientific and danger since it provokes war in the horn. The Eritrea’s president’s idea to Egypt over the Nile river issue is aimed at inciting conflicts between the two nations, they said.

The Egyptian economists have advised the Cairo government to invest in development projects in upstream nations in order to import food and electric power from countries like Ethiopia instead of threatening war on all east African countries.

They said Egypt has many economic opportunities that it can get from Ethiopia.

The Eritrea’s president support to Egypt over the issue of Nile River is unacceptable by any standard, adding the Egyptian government should not accept it, they added.

The upstream countries want to be able to implement irrigation and hydropower projects in consultation with Egypt and Sudan, but without Cairo being able to exercise the veto power it was given by a 1929 colonial-era treaty with Britain.

The water Nile is governed by two treaties. The 1929 agreement signed between Egypt and Great Britain (representing for colonies including Sudan), gave Cairo the right to veto projects higher up the Nile that would affect its water share.

The other document is the 1959 agreement, between Egypt and Sudan. It gave Egypt the right to 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water a year and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic meters per year.

The new agreement would replace a 1959 accord between Egypt and Sudan. The seven upstream countries have been negotiating for years with Egypt and Sudan to clinch a more equitable agreement but talks have failed to produce any fruit.

The upstream countries say past treaties are unfair and they want an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects.

Egypt and Sudan are sticking to colonial-era pacts which give them over 85% of the Nile water. The two countries say the upstream countries have other sources of water while Egypt gets all its water needs from the Nile. Cairo also projects possible shortages by 2017.