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Ethiopia ratifies New Nile Agreement opposed by Egypt

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Ethiopian parliament ratified an accord that disputes Egypt’s share of rights to the Nile

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (AFP File)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (AFP File)

 By Manar Mohsen

Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday ratified the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement that aims to challenge Egypt and Sudan’s claims to the majority of the Nile River waters.

It is expected that the other five signatory countries, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi, will also ratify the agreement, immediately putting it into legal effect. Two other countries, Congo and South Sudan, had announced plans to sign the agreement.

According to Khaled Wassif, spokesperson of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the parliamentary ratification of the accord has no effect on the situation for Egypt.

“The ratification does not carry any affect except to those countries that have already signed and are willing to ratify the agreement,” he said.

Wassif added that according to international legal standards, the agreement applies only to signatory countries unless it garners enough support through ratification to become regional customary law, in which case it would apply to all countries regardless of ratification, including Egypt.

Hani Raslan, an expert on water politics at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, commented that Ethiopia’s ratification of the treaty was expected. He added that the situation could lead to further tension between Egypt and other Nile Basin countries if the treaty comes into effect.

The parliamentary ratification comes amid threats by Egyptian politicians against Ethiopia for attempting to replace colonial-era agreements that guarantee Egypt “natural and historic rights” to the Nile waters.

Ethiopian officials have called on Egypt to address the issue through diplomacy and negotiations to create a win-win situation for both countries. However, President Mohammed Morsi warned Ethiopia on Monday that “all options are open” to stop Ethiopia’s dam project.

Raslan described the official stance of the Egyptian government on the issue as “perplexing,” adding that their approach often goes from one extreme to another.

“We have gone from cooperation with other countries to the President talking about shedding blood over the issue,” he said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn responded to President Morsi’s threat of conflict by vowing that “no one” will interrupt the construction of the dam.

The Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu told parliament that the government had made several attempts to appease and cooperate with the Egyptian authorities. These include postponing the agreement’s ratification by a year to oblige Egypt’s request for time until a new government was elected following the 2011 uprising.

He furthermore added that Ethiopia out of cooperation allowed Egyptian experts to inspect the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

“No other country does this but we did it in cooperation and friendly spirit. But we are seeing how our good intentions are being responded to,” he said, referring to the hostile statements made by Egyptian officials in the past week.

Last month, Ethiopia began diverting the waters of the Blue Nile in its construction of the Renaissance Dam, a $4.2 billion hydro-electric dam that Egyptian analysts claim will diminish Egypt’s water supply.

The agreement is a result of regional negotiations that date back to 1997 when several riparian countries held negotiation to discuss a new legal and institutional framework that would supersede the 1959 Agreement. However, according to the 1969 Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties, a treaty cannot create either obligation or rights for a State that is not party to it.

  • Observer

    Now you can even cry more lol

  • Observer

    Ethiopia delayed to ratify the treaty in respecting the Egyptian people until the country form a formal government. But ”respect” is taken as fear! Now, there was no anytime to ratify the Nile treaty except now amid the empty screaming of the so-called Egypt politician! They can learn now! or even worse try whatever you can and see what will happen!

  • Kupti

    Since the coming of Morsi to power the Egyptian revolution
    has been reversed and the hope of the new and democratic Egypt has been
    extinguished plunging the country in to social and economic crises. The only chance he has is to talk of war and
    swing from one direction to other direction to divert the attention of the
    public. 13 million people have signed petition for his removal and it is time
    for him to go. Let’s some intelligent guy take over and deal the Egyptian
    issues intelligently and according to international laws. Time is up and Morsi must go.

  • disqus_OqSaXLNOKn

    most of Egyptian political leaders is not technical and deep knowledge about politics. most of them suggest contradict idea about the river usage with in a day. it is bad for the Egyptian. Violent rhetoric never discourage us from doing what we want, they are outdated like their age.

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  • Elias

    President Mursi, it is shame declare war on Ethiopia.Ethiopia is postponing ratification of the agreements until the new government elected due to the Egyptian uprising of 2011. But majority of the Egyptian politicians consider this as a fear.
    Mr. Presidant, I advise you to read the Ethiopian history very well. All the Invaders they declare war on Ethiopia for a number of times but no one defeat the Ethiopians.
    As to my ideas all the ”option you have on the table”,Please put it on drawer and locked it. As a principle follow a win win negotiation between the majority up stream countries.

  • Pingback: Uganda backs Ethiopia in dam conflict - Daily News Egypt

  • teferi

    president Mursi the only alternative win win solution because this is 21 century and Ethiopia is stronger than ever in every aspect including the army to deter any aggression!!! please think wisely as a leader!!

  • Moti

    Entebe Cooperation framework is the only way to deal with,.

  • Pingback: Qandil holds meeting over Nile water issue - Daily News Egypt

  • Pingback: Egyptians must exercise restraint and promote dialogue: Ethiopia - Daily News Egypt

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