Mistrust at Nile treaty meeting

Thursday May 13 2010

By WALTER MENYA

Water ministers of five countries meet in Entebbe on Friday with the signing of the Nile treaty on the utilisation of the world’s longest river high on the agenda.

However, Kenya and Burundi are not expected to sign with their upstream partners as their ministers will not be travelling to Uganda.

Junior officers

Egypt and Sudan are also not expected to sign the Comprehensive Framework Agreement after they objected to sections of the treaty, especially Article 14 (b) which relates to historical water rights and uses.

They are expected to send junior officers as observers.

The two downstream countries are calling for more talks before they sign.

And Egypt has even threatened to pull out of the talks if the upstream states sign the CFA.

But the threats have been dismissed by Kenya, which sees them as bargaining chips for a better deal.

“Egypt’s threats to pull out are simply negotiation tactics,” director of water resources and Kenya’s lead negotiator John Rao Nyaoro said on Thursday.

Riparian states have been renegotiating the treaty since 1995.

Regional communication officer at the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat Jane Baitwa on Thursday said from Entebbe, Uganda that four ministers had arrived for the meeting.

Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and hosts Uganda had confirmed their participation at the meeting, said Ms Baitwa.

Kenya’s water minister Charity Ngilu will be represented by the country’s High Commissioner in Kampala, Mr Nyaoro said.

He said the minister would travel to Entebbe at a later date and sign the treaty.