By GODFREY OLUKYA (AP)
ENTEBBE, Uganda — Four upriver Nile River countries signed an agreement Friday that pits the four and their interest in the use of the Nile’s water against down-river countries Sudan and Egypt.
The four countries — Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia — formalized a permanent Nile River Basin commission. Other countries including Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi signaled they would support the agreement in coming months.
Egypt and Sudan did not send delegations to the signing.
“The Nile is a resource for all countries in the Nile basin,” said Ethiopia’s minister of water resources, Asfaw Dinamo. “For the last 10 years we have been negotiating how to use the water resource together amicably.”
A colonial-era treaty signed in 1929 between Egypt and Britain gives Egypt majority rights to the Nile’s waters. Upstream countries want to be able to use the Nile for development projects like irrigation.
Dinamo said none of the countries along the Nile should sue or declare hostilities over use of the river.
Egypt requested that the countries wait to sign the agreement, but Stanislas Kamanzi, Rwanda’s minister for environment, said countries had been already been negotiating for 10 years.
“If we did not sign today, it would take us another 10 years to sign this agreement,” he said.