News / Africa

Ethiopia Freezes Nile Water Treaty in Sign of Thaw With Egypt

Ethiopia has agreed to postpone ratification of a treaty on sharing Nile River water until a new Egyptian government takes office to join the negotiations. The delay eases a long-running dispute between upstream countries at the source of the Nile and downstream countries that claim historic rights to the water.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has told a visiting Egyptian delegation he will freeze consideration of a treaty that would reverse colonial-era agreements giving Egypt and Sudan rights to 90 percent of the Nile’s water. Six upper riparian states have signed the deal, clearing the way for ratification. But downstream countries Egypt and Sudan have refused.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Egypt Mohamoud Dirir Gheddi said the delay is a goodwill gesture to allow Egypt time to elect a new government following the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

"Ethiopia, having seen the current situation in Egypt, where they need to establish their own government and go through a democratic process of election of their president, sees that it is sane and wise to wait for Egypt and give her time. So it is by way of freezing the ratification at parliament that process will be delayed until such time as Egypt comes up with its own popularly elected government," Dirir said.

Members of the Egyptian delegation say they received a similar assurance from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during a visit to Kampala last month. Delegation leader Mustafa el Gindy said the 47-member group asked for a delay of up to a year.

"Six months or a year because we need to stabilize, we need to finalize our revolution. We got Mubarak, we got his ministry, but 30 years of Mubarak in Egypt, there is a lot of ‘Mubarak underground’ who want to kill this revolution. Then we need the time, the year is a maximum to get back strong enough, to sit all together," el Gindy said.

The water-sharing dispute gained new urgency last month when Ethiopia announced it is building a huge 5,000-megawatt power project on the Nile, close to the Sudanese border. El Gindy said the announcement frightened many Egyptians, who were told for decades by the Mubarak government that Ethiopia was trying to steal their water.

"I told the prime minister, 30 years of Mubarak made the Egyptians [think] they don’t trust you. They think you are the man who wants to kill them and cut the water on them," el Gindy said.

Ethiopia’s ambassador Dirir Gheddi says the Mubarak government contributed to the unfriendly atmosphere by blocking international funding for an Ethiopian power project on the Nile.

"There was a baggage of suspicion created by the former regime vis-a-vis Ethiopia that Ethiopia is a conspiring country against Egypt, and of course Egypt has conspired against Ethiopia in the past, persuading international donors like the IMF and World Bank not to fund projects in Ethiopia related to the Nile River," Dirir said.

Egyptian delegation leader el Gindy says that when all Nile riparian countries reach a deal on water-sharing, institutions like the World Bank and IMF will be knocking on their door to fund power generation projects.

News agencies say Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will visit Ethiopia later this month to follow up on the work of the public diplomacy delegation.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs