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South Sudan will sign Nile sharing agreement

South Sudan will be the seventh country to sign the agreement on sharing the Nile waters, which Egypt opposes

Ahram Online and MENA, Tuesday 18 Jun 2013

South Sudan plans to sign an agreement that aims to replace colonial-era deals that awarded the lion's share of the Nile waters to Egypt and Sudan.

South Sudan's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Paul Mayom Akec described the signing of the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile Basin countries, sometimes known as the Entebbe agreement, as "inevitable."

"The process of joining the agreement has started at all levels of the state apparatus in South Sudan," Akec stated in a press conference.

Akec confirmed that South Sudan will start implementing the agreement as soon as parliament ratifies it.

The state of South Sudan will benefit from the agreement by using the Nile River water to construct projects that will bring "prosperity and welfare to its citizens," according to Akec.   

Akec's statement comes following a statement by Mohamed Bahaa Al-Din, the Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation, on the agreement. Al-Din stated last Sunday that the agreement is not binding on Egypt, as Egypt did not sign it. The only way Egypt will sign the agreement, according to Al-Din, is if a few points of contention are agreed upon. One of points, for Egypt, is that Egypt be given a decision-making position in the proposed Nile River Basin Commission.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian foreign minister met with his Ethiopian counterpart to discuss their recent row on a hydroelectric dam being constructed by Ethiopia. The dam will be the largest in the continent.

The Ethiopian parliament ratified the Cooperative Framework Agreement last week.

Ethiopia will be able, according to the agreement, to build developmental projects along the Nile without prior consent from Egypt.

In a joined statement, the Ethiopian and Egyptian foreign ministers decided on another round of talks between ministers and experts in a few weeks to further discuss the dam's effect, if any, on Egypt's Nile water share.

Six riparian countries have already signed the agreement: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi.

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