Malawi says lake row with Tanzania to be resolved amicably

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ephraim Mganda Chiume said on Friday  that Malawi and Tanzania would resolve the border issue over Lake Malawi amicably.

Briefing journalists through a prepared statement that he read at the Central Office of Information (COI) in Lilongwe, Chiume said Malawi was engaged in discussions with government of the United Republic of Tanzania to resolve the issue.

Said Chiume: “The nation is hereby informed that there are on-going discussions between our two countries and that the Malawi Government is determined to reach an amicable solution with the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.”

Chiume further said that Malawi has rightful claim to the whole lake basing on the Heligoland Treaty signed by Germany and Britain – Malawi and Tanzania’s old colonial masters.

The treaty defines the border between the two countries as being the edge of the waters on eastern shore of Lake Malawi.

The position of the Heligoland treaty according to Chiume, was further reinforced and adopted by resolutions of the African Union in 2002 and 2007 and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Union (OAU) in 1963 that states that ‘member states should recognize and recognize and accept the borders that were inherited at the time of independence.’

The treaty in part, on article one states that: “German sphere of influence…to the South by a line which, starting on coast at the Northern limit of Mozambique follows the course of the river Rovoma to the point of confluence of the Nsinje; hence it runs westwards along the parallel of that point till it reaches Lake Nyasa [Lake Malawi]; hence striking Northward, it follows the eastern, Northern and Western shores of the lake to the northern bank of the mouth of the river Songwe.”

Chiume: No cause for anxiety

The Foreign Affairs Minister who was flanked by Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu Kalongashawa, said that while they acknowledged Tanzania’s claim to half of the Lake basing on common law,

“It is Malawi’s position that the principle which Tanzania depends upon applies only where there is no treaty.”

No cause for alarm

Chiume also assured the nation that there should be no cause for anxiety or alarm as the two countries were engaged in discussions ‘so that an amicable solution is found on this long outstanding issue.’

In the statement Chiume also condemned the misrepresentation in both the local and international media that there was rising tension between Malawi and Tanzania.

“This is far from the truth because we are discussing in an open and cordial manner with a view of reaching an agreement,” said Chiume.

He also appealed to the media not to ‘cause unnecessary anxieties. Let us allow diplomacy to work,’ concluded Chiume.

Malawi and Tanzania have had rival claims over the lake from post-independence times and this has come to the fore over the recent gas and oil exploration licenses issued out by Malawi.

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