Mubarak urges Nile Basin states to renegotiate water deal

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mufid Shehab said that the government considered the issue of Nile water a matter of “life and death,” since 95 percent of Egypt’s water resources came from the Nile, unlike Nile Basin states that have plentiful alternative water sources.

The minister added that President Hosni Mubarak and his Sudanese counterpart had sent letters to the presidents of Nile Basin countries asking them to renegotiate a common agreement after they failed to reach consensus in their recent meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Egypt hopes that Nile Basin countries rescind their decision to sign an agreement among themselves that excludes Egypt and Sudan,” Shehab said.

Minister of Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Eddin Allam, for his part, said Egypt would not sign any agreements that did not safeguard its rights.

“Egypt and Sudan should be informed of any water-related projects carried out in Nile Basin countries,” he said. “And they should have the right to veto any projects that may threaten their water security.”

Allam went on to accuse these countries of violating the Nile Basin Initiative, which calls for a process of consensus to decide outstanding issues rather than simple majority voting.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abu Zeid, head of the Arab Water Council, said that the council had suggestions for resolving the current impasse between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand and the rest of the Nile Basin states on the other. He declined to give details, however, in the absence of official requests for the council’s intervention from the governments of Egypt and Sudan.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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