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Uzbek Senate Approves Deal With Kyrgystan On Management Of Disputed Water Reservoir.

The Kempir-Abad reservoir is a vital regional water source located in the fertile Ferghana Valley.

The Kempir-Abad reservoir is a vital regional water source located in the fertile Ferghana Valley.

BISHKEK -- The Uzbek Senate has approved agreements with Kyrgyzstan on border demarcation and jointly managing the Kempir-Abad water reservoir, an issue that has been a hot-button issue between the two Central Asian nations.

The Senate's chairwoman, Tanzila Norboeva, said after the agreements were unanimously approved on November 18 that the documents will help to solve long-time issues between the two nations.
The Uzbek parliament's lower chamber approved the agreements on November 14, while Kyrgyz lawmakers gave them the green light amid public protests on November 17. Both country's presidents must still sign the deal for it to become valid.
The Kempir-Abad reservoir, known in Uzbekistan as the Andijon reservoir, was built in 1983. It is located in the fertile Ferghana Valley and represents a vital regional water source. Uzbekistan, whose population of 35 million is five times larger than that of Kyrgyzstan, uses most of the water from the area. Many Kyrgyz civil activists, opposition politicians, and residents living close to the dam are against the deal saying Uzbekistan should continue to be allowed to use the water but the reservoir's land should remain within Kyrgyzstan. Last month, more than 20 members of a group called the Kempir-Abad Defense Committee were arrested in Bishkek and sent to pretrial detention for two months after they openly challenged the deal. They were charged with planning riots over the border demarcation deal, which is more than three decades in the making. The former Kyrgyz ambassador to Malaysia, Azimbek Beknazarov, former lawmaker Asia Sasykbaeva, well-known politicians Kanat Isaev, Jenis Moldokmatov, and Ravshan Jeenbekov, and other noted public figures and human rights activists are among the jailed members of the committee. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and his allies claim the deal benefits Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz farmers will still have access to the water reservoir. The two Central Asian countries share a more than 1,300-kilometer border.

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