Seven out of the nine countries that share the Nile River resources have vowed to move on and sign the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) come May 14, in disregard of two inflexible downstream countries; Egypt and Sudan.
The CFA, is an attempt by the Nile River basin countries to come up with a legal framework to guide the use, development, protection, conservation and management of the River Nile and its resources.
During the just concluded three-day ministerial talks held in Egypt, the two downstream countries remained adamant to sign a final agreement unless they see more guarantees with regard to water security and what they consider to be their historic rights to the Nile’s waters.
A statement from the Nile Basin secretariat indicates that the meeting agreed that Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda should go on with the signing.
“With regard to the signing procedure, we should open the Cooperative Framework Agreement from May 14 and it shall remain open for not more than one year,” reads the statement.
It, however, continues to say that Egypt and Sudan did not concur with this.
“Instead, Egypt and Sudan proposed that all Nile Basin countries issue a presidential declaration to launch the River Nile Basin Commission as negotiations to reach a comprehensive agreement on the CFA continue.”
“They also proposed that modalities of the Commission be elaborated by the countries, taking into consideration the relevant provisions in the draft CFA,” reads the statement in part.
Addressing journalists, Egyptian Vice-Foreign Minister for Nile Basin affairs, Reda Bibars, said that Egypt would not be affected by upstream states signing a final agreement.
He affirmed that the international law protects Egypt in this context, especially with respect to prior agreements signed in 1929 and 1959 which preserve the country’s current water quota.
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister, Mohamed Nasr Eddin Allam, told reporters that the just-concluded negotiations are not the end of the road, and that there will be further negotiations to settle pending disagreements.