Malawi takes lake row with Tanzania to court, says Pres.Banda

Malawian President Joyce Banda has said her government will take the Lake Malawi border dispute with Tanzania to International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying the mediation by former presidents of the southern Africa has been compromised.

President Banda told reporters at a news conference she held at Kamuzu Palce in Lilongwe on return from visits to the United States and Britain that Malawi will seek ICJ help to ensure that justice prevails.

“Our view is that we should eventually go to court. We should not waste time on this (mediation),” Banda said.

She said the mediation bid left to the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government, which is chaired by Mozambique’s former President Joachim Chissano, was “compromised because information submitted by Malawi was leaked to Tanzania”.

President Banda: Spekaing to reporters, saying ICJ has to help

President Banda: Spekaing to reporters, saying ICJ has to help

She fingered the executive secretary of the forum, John Tesha, a Tanzanian national, for leaking some vital information to his home country.

“After surrendering our documents, we were told that they were leaked to Tanzania before the Tanzanians surrendered theirs,” Banda said.

“We feel everything is compromised,” she said.

Known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania, the disputed water mass is thought to sit over rich oil and gas reserves, according to recent Malawian government reports.

The mineral potential has rekindled a border which has remained unresolved for almost half a century.

The conflict escalated last July when Malawi awarded oil exploration licenses to United Kingdom-based Surestream Petroleum. And last December, Malawi awarded the second-largest license to SacOil Holdings Ltd. of South Africa, a move that deepened the crisis.

Twice, the two countries tried to resolve the dispute diplomatically, but to no avail.

The Malawian government admits that this border dispute is a source of concern, but its economy needs oil, to diversify away from tobacco.

Malawi claims ownership of the entire lake under an 1890 agreement, while Tanzania disputes this validity, insisting part of the lake falls within its borders.

Malawi cabinet ministers listening to President Banda at a news conference held at Kamuzu Palace

Malawi cabinet ministers listening to President Banda at a news conference held at Kamuzu Palace

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