Lake border mediation rests with Presidents

The mediation team leading the talks on the Lake Malawi boundary dispute has resolved to consult President Peter Mutharika and his Tanzania counterpart John Pombe Magufuli for guidance.

Nevertheless, the Malawi Government has maintained its position on the Lake Malawi boundary between Tanzania and Malawi.

To map the way forward: Mutharika and Magufuli met at the African Union Summit in February this year

In a statement issued last evening, Malawi restated and re-affirmed its position that the Lake Malawi boundary between the two countries is the shoreline of the lake as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty.

The statement follows a two-day mediation in Pretoria, South Africa which the High Level Mediation Team (HLMT) led by  former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano and Thabo Mbeki, the former President of the Republic of South Africa facilitated.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation states that the Malawi and Tanzania delegations accepted the proposal by the mediation team and gave the Presidents of Malawi and Tanzania three months to come to a final resolution.

“In the spirit of seeking a solution on the dispute, the two delegations accepted the proposal and further agreed that, the process of consulting the two Heads of State by the HLMT should take place in not more than three months time from 12th July, 2017, after which, further direction shall be availed by the HLMT,” the statement reads.

A map showing the disputed border

On its part, the Malawi delegation reiterated its commitment of respecting African boundaries existing at the time of independence in keeping with African Union and Organisation of African Unity (OAU) then, declarations.

In May this year, former Tanzania High Commissioner Victoria Mwakasege said her country, which has since 2012 been claiming it owns half of the eastern part of Lake Malawi, wants a share of oil resources in the lake.

In the lake border dispute, Malawi asserts full ownership of the lake, except the south-eastern stretch in Mozambique whereas Tanzania is claiming the north-eastern half as its own.

Malawi bases its argument on a July 1 1890 treaty between Germany and Britain that maps the boundary between the two countries along the Tanzania shores.

On the other hand, Tanzania is invoking the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea that stipulates that in cases where nations are separated by water bodies, the boundary lies in the middle of the water source. n

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