Home | News    Saturday 5 June 2004

Nile River basin countries adjourn without agreement on new framework

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KAMPALA, June 5 (AFP) — Ten African countries sharing the River Nile adjourned a six-day meeting after failing to agree on a legal framework to replace colonial laws giving Egypt preferential use of the river’s resources.

"The meeting has been adjourned to September when we shall reconvene at Entebbe, Uganda, to continue with the issues at hand, as no concrete agreement was reached," Ugandan Water Commissioner Ssenfuma Nsubuga told AFP by telephone.

"We were handling issue after issue and many important issues remain on the agenda for the next meeting," he added.

A team of experts has been meeting since June 1 to try to come up with a legal and institutional cooperation framework that will be the basis for sharing River Nile waters among the ten countries making up the River Nile basin.

The negotiators are supposed to forward their final document to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) ministers of water, none of whom attended the just-ended Entebbe meeting.

Britain and Egypt signed a treaty in 1929 requiring Nile Basin countries to seek permission from Cairo before embarking on large-scale projects that would affect the level and flow of the river’s waters.

Upstream countries have rubbished the treaty as a colonial relic and in 1999, together with Egypt, which had earlier tried to cling to the old treaty, launched the NBI, tasking it with finding a better way of sharing the river.

Nile Basin countries include Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

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