Ethiopia led Nile treaty gains ground as Burundi joins

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The Nile river from space
The Nile river from space

Ethiopian authorities have expressed their contentment over Burundi’s decision to sign a new Nile water equitable sharing treaty that will end Egypt’s historical control over the Nile water.

Last week, Burundi became the sixth member of the Nile basin countries to append its signature to a new Nile Basin Co-operative Framework in a bid to replace a colonial era treaty and ensure a new equitable water sharing agreement that will end Egypt’s historical control over the Nile water.

The new Nile Basin Co-operative Framework was approved in May last year in Entebbe, Uganda, by five of the Nile Basin countries, comprising of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Water and Energy Minister of Ethiopia, Alemayehu Tegenu, announced his government’s contentment over Burundi’s agreement, as the Co-operative Framework enters its final stage in a bid to replace the old Nile treaty.

According to Alemayehu Tegenu, the new agreement will remain open for the remaining riparian countries to sign until 14 May 2011. The Democratic Republic Congo is among the countries expected to append their signature to the agreement.

Egypt and Sudan, the two main opponents of the new treaty are also expected to sign the agreement, reports say.

Ato Tefera Beyene, Ethiopian trans boundary rivers administration directorate director and member of the Nile negotiating team, told local media that countries which are signatories to the new treaty have so far showed their commitments to the  Co-operative framework.

Ato Tefera Beyene insisted that there was no way the group would back down on the demands of the Co-operative Framework and also highlighted the need for the Egypt and Sudan, opponents of the new treaty, to reunite the embattled Nile basin countries by signing the treaty.

The new agreement, the Nile Basin Co-operative Framework, is to replace a 1959 accord between Egypt and Sudan that gave them control of more than 90 per cent of the water flow.

The Nile Basin Initiative, which had been spearheading the talks, is to become the Nile Basin Commission. It will receive, review and approve or reject projects related to Africa’s longest river.

The commission will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and have representation from all nine Nile Basin countries.

Although Egypt’s position, since the north African country’s change of regime, is not known, last year, the group had underplayed fears that Egypt could militarily attack the countries which signed the agreement.

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