Egypt Snubs Nile Minister's Meeting Again

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In short
Water and Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris told Uganda Radio Network that he had received a communication from his Egyptian counterpart protesting against the way Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat in Uganda is handling the process. But Cheptoris, the Outgoing Nile Council of Ministers chairman did not reveal any further details on the alleged protest from the Egyptian Authorities.

Egypt has snubbed the Nile Council of Minister's meeting again, months after it returned to the Nile water negotiations under the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).

Egypt's Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aaty was expected to join nine other ministers for the 25th Nile Council of Ministers meeting (NILECOM) in Entebbe on Thursday. However, he did show up.

Water and Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris told Uganda Radio Network that he had received a communication from his Egyptian counterpart protesting against the way Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat in Uganda is handling the process. But Cheptoris, the Outgoing Nile Council of Ministers chairman did not reveal any further details on the alleged protest from the Egyptian Authorities.

A source that has been following the Nile negotiations, however, told URN that Egypt claimed that the Nile Basin Initiative had seemingly favoured East Africa Community Members, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi to negotiate as a bloc.

Egyptian delegates raised similar claims in June at the Heads of State Summit called by President Yoweri Museveni. The allegations were sparked off by what appeared like a diplomatic glitch when State House in Entebbe lined the East African flag at a room where President Museveni and other Heads of State were to address a Press Conference also attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Nile Basin Initiative Executive Director, Innocent Ntabana declined to comment on the allegation when contacted by URN.

Water and Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris, however, said it was in the interest of Egypt to continue negotiations with other countries that share the Nile Water resources.
 
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Egypt last participated at the Nile Basin-related activity at the first Nile Basin States Summit in June.  It was expected that the meeting chaired by President Museveni would draw a clear roadmap towards a common ground to the adoption of the Cooperative Framework Agreement also known as the Entebbe Agreement.

The Entebbe Agreement drawn under the auspices of Nile Basin Initiative is aimed at regulating usage of the Nile River waters among the ten Nile riparian countries. Egypt is opposed to some of its clauses in the agreement, which was signed by Uganda and five other countries.

The Egyptians want to maintain the 1959 Nile Water Agreement that granted the majority control over the Nile Waters. They do not want for example a clause on water security as part of the Entebbe Agreement and insist that the Nile River water usage should be determined in accordance with the needs of each country and its population.

Egypt also insists on the principle of prior notice before any project is started in the upper Nile and to a unanimous voting mechanism instead of a majority one.

Sam Cheptoris said it is still possible to have Egypt part of the negotiations even when some countries already signed and ratified the Entebbe Agreement.
 
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Meanwhile, the meeting in Entebbe adopted a new ten-year Nile Basin Initiative strategy which among other issues outlined some ambitious projects in the areas of electricity, trans-boundary water resources management and climate change among others