Malawi says lake dispute with Tanzania will move to International Court

Malawi government has vowed that it will “vigorously” defend its Lake Malawi, saying the lake border disputes with  Tanzania will move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands if mediation by three former African leaders fail.

Foreign Affairs and international Cooperation Minister, Ephraim Mganda Chiume, told a trade and investment forum in London on Wednesday that his country was confident the matter will be resolved amicably by the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government, which is currently being chaired by former Mozambican President Chissano.

He however said, if it fails, then they will go all the way to ICJ.

“We will pursue the matter all the way to International Court of Justice,” Chiume told British investors.

Chiume: Afterall the Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi
Chiume: Afterall the Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi

Chiume said there is no cause for alarm over the dispute, saying it will be resolved, in whatever form, peacefully.

He was responding to a question from one of the delegates to the forum who wanted to know if there would be stability in the southern African nation owing to the dispute.

Malawi claims sovereignty over the entirety of the 29,600-square-kilometre lake that straddles the borders of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

But Tanzania  says 50 percent is part of its territory.

The dispute between both southern African countries reignited when Malawi awarded exploration licenses to United Kingdom-based Surestream Petroleum in 2011 to search for oil and gas on Lake Malawi.

Tanzanian authorities want Surestream Petroleum to postpone any planned drilling on the lake until the dispute is resolved. But Malawi has remained defiant.

Last December, the Malawian government awarded the second-largest oil exploration license (after the Surestream license) to South African company SacOil Holdings Limited.

So far, oil companies have yet to begin drilling and are still exploring the centre of the lake, which has been cordoned off.

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