Monday 27 August 2012

Malawi,Tanzania to seek third party mediation over border dispute

fishermen at Lake Malawi
Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The despute between Malawi and Tanzania over Lake Malawi border has now taken a new turn with both sides recommending mediation or the involvement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve the stalemate.

The recommendation was made after week-long talks between the two countries held in Malawi' s northern city of Mzuzu ended Saturday with the two sides making little progress, foreign affairs ministers from the two sides told journalists in Lilongwe on Saturday. Malawi's Foreign Affairs Minister, Ephraim Mganda Chiume, said that during the talks the two sides made little progress in resolving the matter hence the recommendations.Chiume, however, said the two sides had agreed to meet again in September in Tanzanian city Dar es Salaam to discuss the

matter further before considering involvement of either a third party or ICJ. "We felt that there were still other options of diplomacy we could explore including involvement of third party. We have recommended that officials from the two sides should look into the matter again in Dar-es-Salaam,"said Chiume "And we also recommended that before the September meeting our Attorney Generals (AGs) should take time to interpret Article 1 (2) (vi) of the 1890 Anglo-Germany Treaty so that when we meet again in September we should all have legal understanding of the article, " he said.He said the border dispute between the two countries had been there for too long and that it was high time that it was resolved amicably, saying failure to do so would impact negatively on the two countries.

On the other hand, Chiume's Tanzanian counterpart, Benard Membe, said the dispute indeed required further talks with the two sides maintaining their calm and diplomacy.   "We have agreed that the dispute we have requires a negotiated settlement through diplomacy," said Membe. "Meanwhile, both parties are urged to refrain from making any provocative remarks which may create tension among the people of the two countries," said Membe.The Tanzanian foreign minister further said that during the discussions, his side had urged there should be no further exploration of Lake Malawi, especially the disputed part which is the northeastern part of the lake, to give room to the ongoing discussions.

The border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania begun recently when Malawi engaged a British firm Surestream to explore Lake Malawi for oil and gas deposit.The lake borders Malawi and Tanzania.The latter claims that part of the lake on that side belongs to the former Germany colony, while Malawi believes it owns the whole lake, based on the Heligoland Treaty between Britain, Malawi's colonial masters, and Germany, Tanzania's colonial masters, which stipulated that the borders between the two countries were on the eastern shores of Lake Malawi.

Amid fears among the people of the two countries that there would be war over the lake, presidents of the two countries, Malawi's Joyce Banda and Tanzania's counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete, have been quoted in both local and international media to have said "the two countries would never go to war, no matter what." The two presidents met recently in Maputo of Mozambique where, on the sidelines of SADC Summit for Heads of State, they "discussed the matter amicably and arrived at fruitful results," according to President Banda.  (Xinhua)

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