SUDAN WATCH: High level Egyptian officials visit Khartoum and Juba - Egypt urges Sudan unity ahead of referendum

Sunday, May 09, 2010

High level Egyptian officials visit Khartoum and Juba - Egypt urges Sudan unity ahead of referendum

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit pressed for the unity of Sudan on Sunday, ahead of a referendum on independence which could call into question current Nile Basin water-sharing agreements.

"Egypt is in favour of the unity of Sudan as a part of Africa and a member of the African Union. We will do everything in our power to save the unity of Sudan," Abul Gheit told reporters in Khartoum after talks with President Omar al-Beshir.

Abul Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman are also due in the south Sudan capital Juba later on Sunday where they will meet Salva Kiir, the head of the semi-autonomous region.

If the southern Sudanese vote for independence in next January's referendum, this could have an impact on the disputed sharing of Nile waters.

Further details below.

Aboul Gheit and Omar Suleiman are visiting both Khartoum and Juba
From Arab Republic of Egypt Press Office - Minister's Cabinet
Saturday, 08 May 2010:
The Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry stated that Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Minister Omar Suleiman will go on a visit on May 9, 2010, to both Khartoum and Juba, and are expected to meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and congratulate him on the occasion of winning the Presidential elections held in Sudan last month, and to congratulate General Salva Kiir First Vice President of Sudan on the occasion of assuming the Presidency of the Government of the South.

The Spokesman added that the visit comes within the framework of underlining Egypt's interest in the security, unity and stability of Sudan whose issues are of a strategic priority to Egypt, in addition to Egypt's interest in the future of southern Sudan, in light of the strong ties binding Egypt and the various powers of Sudan, which is reflected by the Egyptian support for the efforts of the Sudanese government in maintaining stability in various parts of the country.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit arrives to meet Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Khartoum Sunday, 09 May 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

High level Egyptian officials visit Sudan
From Radio Miraya - Sunday, 09 May 2010 14:05:
The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul Ghait and the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman arrived to Khartoum today. Speaking to Miraya, the Egyptian Ambassador to Khartoum, Mohammed Abdel Munaim Al Chazali, said that Abul Gait and Omar Suleiman will meet President-elect Omar Al Bashir and the Vice President Ali Osman Taha.

The two officials will also travel to Juba to meet with First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaks to the press after meeting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Khartoum Sunday, 09 May 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Egypt urges Sudan unity ahead of referendum
AFP - Sunday, 09 May 2010:
KHARTOUM - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit pressed for the unity of Sudan on Sunday, ahead of a referendum on independence which could call into question current Nile Basin water-sharing agreements.

"Egypt is in favour of the unity of Sudan as a part of Africa and a member of the African Union. We will do everything in our power to save the unity of Sudan," Abul Gheit told reporters in Khartoum after talks with President Omar al-Beshir.

Abul Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman are also due in the south Sudan capital Juba later on Sunday where they will meet Salva Kiir, the head of the semi-autonomous region.

If the southern Sudanese vote for independence in next January's referendum, this could have an impact on the disputed sharing of Nile waters.

A 1959 accord between Cairo and Khartoum reserves 55.5 billion cubic metres a year for Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic metres for Sudan, a combined total of 87 percent of the river's water, leaving just 13 percent for other Nile Basin states.

Some of these, which include Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, say past treaties are unfair and they want an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects.

"While Egyptian officials try to downplay the water concerns, some worry an independent South would soon join the groundswell of states objecting to the standing agreements," said a report by the International Crisis Group released on Thursday.

Last month, Egypt rejected any new plans for Nile water allocation, stressing that its share in the river was a "historic right" with Sudan considered a strong ally.

"Sudan and Egypt agree completely on the question of Nile waters. We are ready to continue discussions with other countries and to cooperate to build a bridge and reach a final agreement that will satisfy all the Nile Basin Initiative countries," Abul Gheit said.
Egyptian FM and spy chief start visit to Sudan on Sunday
Sudan Tribune - Sunday 09 May 2010 - excerpt:
May 8, 2010 (KHARTOUM) - [...] Egypt is stepping up its involvement on Sudan affairs ahead of the 2011 self determination referendum in the South which is widely expected to result in Africa’s newest state.

Earlier this year, Mubarak has reportedly criticized Khartoum for lacking the will to preserve the unity and warning that there are regional powers wanting to fuel conflict in the area which he described as “vital to Egypt”.

The issue of South Sudan secession is sensitive one to Cairo largely due to its impact on the Nile water agreement and the possible reallocation of share with the new state even though legal experts say that the water agreements are still binding to the new state.

Sudan and Egypt have joined hands last month against other Nile basin which are fiercely pushing for a new agreement fueling tensions and anger on all sides.
Further reading
UNAMID: 2 Egyptian peacekeepers killed, 3 injured nr Katila, south of Edd al Fursan, S. Darfur, W. Sudan (Update 1)
Sudan Watch - Friday, 07 May 2010

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