Home | News    Monday 5 April 2004

Uganda minister hails "understanding" with Egypt on Nile waters: report

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CAIRO, April 5 (AFP) — Ugandan Water Minister Maria Mutagamba said she had reached "full... understanding" with Egypt on sharing the waters of the Nile in talks after her government demanded a revision of colonial treaties giving Cairo the lion’s share.

"There is a full and deep understanding between Egypt and Uganda on the best use of shared water resources within the framework of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI)," Egypt’s MENA news agency quoted the visiting minister as saying.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Egyptian Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mahmud Abu Zeid, she stressed the importance of dealing with the Nile water issue.

The NBI, set up in 1999, groups together 10 African countries — Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Last Thursday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni became the first head of state to enter a fierce debate over the Nile waters, calling on Egypt not to monopolise it.

Use of the Nile water has lately become controversial as NBI countries south of Egypt have demanded new agreements to give them equal say in the use of the waters for development.

Egypt clings to treaties signed with Britain in 1929 and 1959, which restrict other basin states, which were then British colonies, from undertaking projects that reduce the volume of water flowing to Egypt.

The NBI’s 10 members met in Nairobi last month and are due to meet again in Uganda from May 31 to June 5 to try and negotiate a new framework.

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