Ethiopia accuses Egypt over Nile waterBy ARGAW ASHINE | Wednesday, April 21 2010 at 15:19
Ethiopian is accusing Egypt of delaying a new agreement on fair and equitable sharing of the Nile River waters.
“We understand that Egypt has employed a delaying tactic,” Shimelis Kemal, Ethiopian Government deputy spokesperson, told reporters in Addis Ababa.
Nile riparian countries are scheduled to sign a new Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA) on May 14 in Uganda.
But Egypt has warned it would withdraw from the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), if the seven downstream states sign the accord
NBI is a World Bank-funded programme aimed at resolving disputes over the Nile River waters.
Under NBI, countries have debated equitable water use for the last one decade.
The new pact
NBI comprises nine countries, namely; Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The new agreement will allow countries to build hydro dams, and undertake irrigation agriculture and other development projects along Nile River.
Egypt and Sudan have opposed the new pact after their proposal to gain a veto power was rejected by other Nile basin countries.
According to Mr Shimeles, the previous colonial agreement signed by Britain, Sudan and Egypt (1959), has been rejected by seven riparian countries. The pact allows a lion’s share of the Nile waters to Egypt.
Egypt claims 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile’s annual flow (87 per cent) under a 1959 treaty with Sudan, That agreement didn’t include Ethiopia, which is the source of about 85 per cent of the river’s water, or other downstream states.
“The new pact has not left out Egypt and Sudan, its open and they can join us anytime soon,” Mr Shimeles added.
A powerful nation
Egypt, a powerful nation, has previously threatened military action against the other Nile nations if they slowed the flow of water to Egypt.
Ethiopia, the official indicated, was not worried and Addis believes that the situation would not turn confrontational at this time.
However, Egyptian officials are signalling a stern warning to downstream countries not to sign a new deal.
According Egyptian newspapers, President Hosni Mubarak may request his African brothers to delay the May 14 signing ceremony in Uganda.
In the past months, Sudan and Egypt leaders have written a joint letter to Nile basin countries to renegotiate the deal.
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