Tanzania stick to their guns in Lake Malawi border dispute: Demands 50%

The border dispute in Lake Malawi (Nyasa) continues to make headlines as Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has said his country deserves equal share in the lake because Tanzania rivers are some of the largest tributaries emptying into the lake.

President Kikwete is quoted by Tanzania media that in his month-end address to the nation, he  argued it would be illogical to ask his country’s citizens to simply give up the lake, where Lilongwe has awarded an oil exploration licence to a British firm, Surestream.

Tanzania wants the border to be at the centre of the lake and Malawi insists that the border should be along the shores.

President Kikwete said the Anglo-German Treaty of 1890  – an agreement between then-colonial powers Germany and Britain –that gave Malawi sole ownership of Lake Malawi  was flawed and Tanzania has every reason to demand it be corrected.

Kikwete and Banda: Seek diplomatic settlement

He  argued that the treaty denies Tanzanians living on the shores of Lake Malawi  their given right to utilize proximate water and marine resources to earn their daily living.

Malawi President Mrs Joyce Banda  is pursuing a non-confrontation approach in the negociations but her government has maintained that Malawi owns the entire lake under an 1890 agreement .

The Tanzania President also said he had assured there will be no  use of military to solve the dispute, saying people should “get rid of fear of war.”

Kikwete in his address said three years after Malawi gained independence from Britain, on January 3, 1967, the Government of Tanzania wrote a letter to the government of Malawi to explain the border issues and recommend talks for the two countries to come up with a solution.

He said Malawi replied on 24 January 1967 acknowledging receiving the letter and promised that they will provide the answers in a short while. However, he said on June 27, 1967, President Kamuzu Banda while addressing the National Assembly of Malawi, refused Tanzania’s request, saying that Tanzania’s claim was not genuine and that historically Songea, Njombe and Mbeya was part of Malawi, thus, negotiations came to a halt.

“Tanzania did not give up. When Bakili Muluzi was elected, new efforts were made but they did not pay off,” Kikwete is quoted as saying.

“ On June 9, 2005, Malawi’s third president, Bingu Wa Mutharika, who is now dead, wrote a letter to former Tanzanian president, Benjamin William Mkapa and advised him that our two countries should negotiate on the border of Lake Nyasa,” Tanzania leader said..

Kikwete argued that the  Anglo-Germany Heligoland  treaty is erroneous because it contravenes international law that requires riparian states to share adjoining water resources.

“It is our opinion that our countries do what the Anglo-German boundary commission did not do. Let’s do it as sovereign states through negotiations,” said the President.

The negociating teams of the two countries meeting recently in Malawi failed to come to mutual agreement and the next round of talks is scheduled for September 10 to 14 in Dar es Salaam.

The two countries will discuss the option of mediation by a third party with the possibility that a council of wise men under African Union (AU) would step in and help broker a settlement.

Should mediation efforts hit the rock, Malawi and Tanzania will have to take their case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for legal resolution.

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