Kenya has signed a new agreement to alter water-sharing arrangements for the Nile River, despite objections from Egypt.
At a news conference in Nairobi Wednesday, Kenyan Water Minister Charity Ngilu said nothing is stopping East African countries from using the water as they choose. She said it is "up to Egypt to come on board."
Four other East African countries signed the deal last Friday in Uganda after 13 years of discussions. Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have promised to sign within the next year.
The deal calls for experts to determine how to fairly share the Nile's water resources. It seeks to replace previous agreements, from 1929 and 1959, that give Egypt and Sudan control over about 90 percent of the Nile's water.
Virtually all of Egypt's water comes from the Nile, Cairo, April 2010
The new deal has sparked sharp criticism from Egypt, which is vowing to take legal action to maintain its current water rights.
Egypt is home to almost 80 million people. Officials there are concerned there may not be enough water to sustain the country's rapidly growing population.
Egyptian officials say Egypt relies on the Nile for 96 percent of its water, while the other Nile Basin countries rely on the river for no more than three percent of their water needs. Egypt has also accused some Nile basin countries of wasting large amounts of water.
Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment Maria Mutagamba said the Nile Basin countries plan to meet again in June or July. She said, in the meantime, they will continue to talk with Egypt in hopes of getting Cairo's support.
Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda signed the accord last Friday.