Malawi-Tanzania border talks to resume, Malawi wants UN mediation
Malawi wants the UN Secretary General’s office to mediate in the lake border dispute with Tanzania and that Tanzania should commit itself to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determinations.
Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume said this on Thursday after visiting the Songwe Border Post in Karonga (in northern Malawi) and the Tanzanian southern district of Kyela to brief officials on progress of talks between the two countries, which Malawi suspended recently.
Chiume, who was accompanied by Paramount Chief Kyungu—also a close friend of Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete—said this would be Malawi’s position when they resume talks with Tanzania later this month.
But Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe recently proposed a Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) or African Union (AU) mediator, a position Chiume could not immediately comment on, pending progress on issues raised by Malawi.
Tanzania is yet to sign Article 36 of the ICJ, which requires all parties to a dispute to accept ICJ’s jurisdiction and declarations on all legal disputes concerning interpretation of a treaty and any question of international law.
“We will look at the legal opinions of the two countries’ attorney generals...We will also be asking Tanzania what value will [the Sadc or AU] mediation add to the legal dispute,” said Chiume.
He said by engaging the United Nations, Malawi feels the matter would easily fall into the ICJ machinery as it is a UN organ.
Chiume disclosed that Tanzania, in a letter dated October 8 2012, responded to Malawi’s letter of protest and conceded to all issues raised by Capital Hill.
On her return from the US early this month, President Joyce Banda told the media that she halted talks with Tanzania for: Drawing a new map splitting northern Lake Malawi into half; reported harassment of Malawian fishermen; alleged presence of a patrol boat on the lake and their threats to blow up Malawian fishermen’s boats plying on the disputed waters.
The lake border dispute, dating back to post-independence days, has rocked Malawi and Tanzania’s diplomatic relations, with Malawi claiming the entire lake and Tanzania arguing the border separating the two countries runs in the middle of the lake, as per international convention when two countries’ border is a water body. But the convention makes exceptions when there are other treaties on the same.