Nile River row needs time to be resolved

20:09, June 28, 2010      

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Water ministers of Nile basin countries are to hold a special session in Kenya late this year, after their regular meeting Saturday and Sunday in Addis Ababa did not achieve any tangible results in resolving disputes.

The five upstream countries who signed the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) in mid-May, namely Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, have said they would not withdraw from the pact.

Egypt's Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Nasreddin Allam said Egypt's attendance was to reiterate its rejection to the current agreement. Sudanese top water official on Sunday threatened to halt cooperation with other Nile countries and request its membership to be frozen if the dispute continued.

Under a 1929 treaty between Egypt and Britain who represented colonial Sudan and some other upstream countries at that time and a 1959 Egypt-Sudan pact, Egypt and Sudan have the right to use about 90 percent of the river's water. Egypt can veto any project affecting the water flow of the river.

The CFA, however, requires an equitable use of the river and the establishment of a permanent water management commission to review projects in the riparian states. Any project can be approved by the majority of its members under the framework.

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