The Minister of Environment and Natural resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, has said that Rwanda is ready to back Southern Sudan’s entry into the Nile Basin, if the country expresses interest.
Southern Sudan acquired its independence on July 9 and has since expressed interest in joining several regional blocs including the Nile Basin and the East African Community.
“It is upon Southern Sudan to decide whether they are interested in joining the bloc but anytime they express interest, Rwanda will definitely back their proposal,” Minister Kamanzi said.
The Minister made the remarks ahead of the upcoming 19th ordinary Nile Council of Minister’s Meeting (Nile-COM) slated for next week in Nairobi, Kenya.
Although the Minister did not divulge further details on Southern Sudan’s entry to the bloc, pundits say the issue is likely to be informally discussed during the meeting.
The Nile-COM will be meeting for the 19th time, however, Ministers charged with water in the basin within the region have not managed to solve outstanding differences over an agreement on equitable sharing of the world’s longest river with or without Egypt and Sudan.
According to Minister Kamanzi; “the issue of the Cooperative Framework Agreement is not on our agenda and we are not intending to re-open that file.”
The agreement, dubbed the Nile ‘Cooperative Framework Agreement’, seeks the establishment of a permanent Nile River Basin Commission through which member countries will act together to manage and develop resources of the Nile.
Egypt and to a lesser extent, Sudan, have for long resisted attempts by other Nile basin countries to modify their share of the river based on two treaties signed in 1929 and 1959.
Apart from Egypt and Sudan, other members of the bloc, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have already signed the agreement.
“Rwanda has even gone a step further, we are now ratifying the agreement,” Minister Kamanzi said.
The Nile-COM will also announce rotation in the chairmanship of the Nile Council of Ministers. Ethiopia, which currently holds the chairmanship will hand over to Kenya effective July 2011 for the next one year.
It is a tradition within nile basin initiative to rotate the position on an annual basis among member states in alphabetical order; Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.