August 5, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia on Tuesday said that member states of the Nile basin, which gathered last week in Egypt in an annual ministerial meeting, have approved Nile Basin Initiatives (NBI), with an objection from Sudan and Egypt.
At a news briefing he gave in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Minister of Water Resource Asfaw Dingamo said that seven member countries have unanimously agreed in favor of all articles of the initiative. But Sudan and Egypt have objected one article on the security of water from the total 39 articles of the package.
According to the Ethiopian minister, Sudan and Egypt have sought a special privilege on Nile River, but have failed to get support from other members and both countries are given six months to act in accordance with the article or to come up with an alternative idea that, in principle doesn’t deviate far from their agreement reached in Alexandria.
If the two countries fail to meet dead line, the implementation of the whole package will begin then after hence forth it is approved by a majority vote.
The package has been designed to benefit all riparian countries in using transboundary water resources in an equitable and fair manner. Asfaw said adding, the meeting was successful in protecting Ethiopia’s interest.
The NBI is a partnership initiated and led by the riparian states of the Nile River through the council of ministers of water affairs of the Nile Basin states.
Egypt and to a lesser extent Sudan are strongly resisting attempts by other Nile basin countries to modify their shares of the river per the 1929 and 1959 treaties.
The 1929 agreement signed between Britain and Egypt states that no project on the Nile would be undertaken by any basin countries that would impact the volume of water reaching Egypt.
Legal experts say that the agreement is binding to Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo despite the fact that most of these countries were not independent at the time.
Thirty years later Sudan and Egypt amended the agreement that enabled the construction of the Aswan dam close to the borders between the two countries.
The 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan states that no projects are allowed on the Nile by any other country without its consent.