Egypt's revolution knocks Nile Basin doors

Dina Samak , Monday 4 Apr 2011

Today is the day: a popular Egyptian delegation is to arrive in Uganda, whose members are vocal about paving the road for a better relationship with Nile Basin countries

Nile River
Nile River, Cairo

Egypt will hold unofficial discussions with Uganda president on Nile water usage. The Egyptian delegation calls for refreshed coordination with the people of the African countries that share the Nile basin. The new delegation, according to its coordinator, Mostafa Gendy, of Al Wafd party, aims at a new start to overcome the prejudice of the former regime.

The popular Egyptian delegation includes three presidential candidates (Hisham El Bastawisy, Hamdeen Sabahy and Ayman Nour) in addition to a number of known political figures, including Osama Al Ghazaly Harb, the head of Al Gabha party, Alsayed Elbadawy the head of Al Wafd party, Hussein Ibrahim of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel Hakim Abdel Nasser the son of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and representatives of Revolution Youth Coalition.

"The problem with [Egypt’s relationship with] Africa has been the way the former president viewed the continent ever since the assassination attempt against him in Ethiopia in 1995," says Gendy.

Gendy continued "What the delegation is trying to do is build upon the sympathy that the African people showed towards our revolution and to work towards a new start."

"We will try to visit other Nile Basin countries, but we chose Uganda to start with because it had a serious problem with the ex-regime and we wanted to give a message that Egypt now is not represented by Mubarak, who did not bother to visit any African nation for the past 25 years. We wanted to show that the spirit of the 25 January revolution rules now," says Gendy, who is also a member of the African Parliament. Gendy considers having strong ties with Africa as one of the demands of the revolution.

The Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said earlier that the 25 January Revolution made Egypt regain its leadership position in the African continent and criticised the former regime as being a US puppet.

Uganda was one of the first upstream Nile Basin countries to sign the Entebbe Initiative in 2010 in defiance of Egypt and Sudan. However, Uganda is not the only Nile Basin country that Egypt will have to deal with in the coming few weeks.

Ethiopia, too, has announced plans to build a hydroelectric power dam along the Blue Nile River, which Egypt thinks will impact its share of the Nile water.

The Egyptian delegation arriving to Uganda today will stress the importance of a diplomatic solution to the Nile Basin crisis and will request the pause of any agreements until further discussions are held with the new Egyptian government.

Nabil El Arabi, Egypt's foreign minister, said that Egypt will be adopting new foreign policies following the revolution, especially with regard to the Nile Basin countries.

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