Tanzania certain of winning lake order row with Malawi

Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Bernard Membe has told Dodoma’s Parliament that they have all kinds of evidence to ensure that they win the lake border row with Malawi if the mediators refer the case to International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Malawi made its official submission in January 2013 in the Mozambican Capital Maputo to the African Forum for Former Heads of State and Governments, which Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano heads.

SADC tasked the Forum with the mediation process on the Malawi/Tanzania Lake Border row to ensure an amicable solution.

Tanzanian media quoted Membe last week during his briefing to parliament were he also confirmed that Malawi had indeed returned to the negotiations.

Malawi Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume: Issue sensitive
Malawi Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume: Issue sensitive

“If the mediators advise us to move forward to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) for a permanent solution, Tanzania will not hesitate to do that,” Membe said. “We have all kinds of evidence to ensure that we win this case.”

In April this year, President Joyce Banda indicated that the Sadc forum’s intervention was a waste of time and Malawi was opting for the ICJ because the mediation process headed by former Mozambique President Joachim Chissano leaked documents to Tanzania.

However, Malawi rescinded its decision and returned to talks.

Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Chiume said he would not  grant an interview on the matter, saying he issue the issue is sensitive and needs to be handled with diplomacy it deserves.

Tanzania submitted its official submission in February 2013 and reiterated that it will not go to war with its neighbor Malawi over the much exaggerated and controversial lake border row saying it is pleased with the mediation process.

In its submission to the Southern African Development Community’s Forum of Former African Heads of State, Malawi said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or legal instruments addressing trans-boundary watercourses are invalid arguing that the Anglo –German treaty of 1890 on which most borders in Africa are based has the overall authority.

Malawi also questioned the legitimacy of the 1890 treaty could have grave consequences for regional stability saying even countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, DRC and Tanzania, Tanzania and Zambia, Ivory Coast and Togo and boundaries in the Lake Chad are based on the same treaty.

The border row, which is more than 40 years old, resurfaced after Malawi discovered oil in the lake.  The dispute has soured relations between the two countries and delayed exploration for oil and gas.

Malawi claims sovereignty over the entire Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest, based on the Helgoland Treaty, a colonial relic, while Tanzania claims under international law it is entitled to over 50 percent of the Lake known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

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