8 October 2012

Tanzania, Malawi Dispute for Global Court

Dar es Salaam, — It is now clear that the lake border disputes between Malawi and Tanzania will move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands.

According to Tanzania president Mr. Jakaya Kikwete the country is making final preparations to present its case at the International court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands if the two countries fail to reach a consensus regarding the boundary issue.

In his monthly address to the nation the president explained the talks between the two countries over the boundary have been stalled following Malawi's pullout to what its president referred to as resulting from "Tanzania launching a new map showing the boundary on the middle of the Lake".

"Tanzania and Malawi have been holding talks since the wrangle over the Lake boundary disputes but the talks stalled following Tanzania's Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Resettlement issuing a new Map showing the boundary demarcations at the middle of the lake."

It was reported that the Malawi president had pulled out of the border dispute talks following the publishing of the new map by Tanzania which coincided with the five day meeting in Lilongwe.

It is said she presented the issue to the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in order for him to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice.

Local newspapers in Malawi have quoted Malawi president Joyce Banda while addressing the nation after a UN meeting in New York that Tanzania were harassing Malawian fishermen and threatening to blow up their boats which she said was unacceptable because according to her the lake belonged to Malawi.

Tanzania's responsible ministry issued the official map early last week claiming there has been misappropriate representation of the countries border that officials said stands at risk if unofficial maps stand to be used in different advertorials in the country.

Dr. Selassie Mayunga the Ministry's Director of Services and Mapping said it is the responsibility of the ministry to make sure that the correct map of Tanzania is used in all the publications and advertisement in the country.

"No one is allowed to publish, distribute and or use the map of Tanzania in his advertisements without the official approval of the said map at the ministry" the director said

Dr Selassie noted plans are under way to make sure that all illegal maps are revoked and that legal map distributions of the new map that shows all the Tanzania regions, districts and its clearly demarcated boundaries will be sourced at the ministry.

It should be noted that recently in July this year's Tanzania and Malawi exchanged hard words over what Tanzania claimed that it had the right to use the lake that borders it at its southern part with Malawi refuting the claims by saying the lake was wholly owned by the country.

This wrangle between the two countries started after Malawi issued exploration rights of gas and oil to a UK based firm Surestream petroleum on the lake shores to which Tanzania claims it had the right to be included in the tender exercise for the exploration because according to them the exploration was taken place on the Tanzania side.Malawi's late president, Bingu wa Mutharika, awarded an exploration contract to UK company Surestream Petroleum during mounting tension over entitlement to the lake last October. Surestream was one of seven companies to bid for hydrocarbon exploration licenses in the Lake Malawi basin.

The fresh-water lake has been a frequent source of strained relations between the two countries. Until now, the consensus has not yet been given ownership of the lake to Malawi as the President of Malawi claimed he has already presented the issue to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in order to resolve it at the International Court of Justice in Rome.The lake known to Tanzania as Lake Nyasa also borders Mozambique where a number of its citizen is positioned along the shores enjoying both the income through fishing and irrigation from this third largest fresh water lake in Africa.

Scientists that have studied the geology of the lake for the last 30 years are optimistic that the condition of the lake is ideal for harbouring hydrocarbons which could result into a turning point for Malawian's economy.

Economist says that there is enough geological evidence suggesting the existence of thick sedimentary rock sequences and structures capable of trapping oil under Lake Malawi.

Speaking on a special television program the former Prime Minister of the first phase government Mr. John Malecel said the issue of the Lake and Ruvuma regions, Mtwara once belonged to what was called the great Nyasaland Empire which was demarcated by the then governors of the British colony.

Mr. Malecela however noted that as time passed on the two governors of both the two countries of Nyasaland and Tanganyika had to agree on the terms of sharing the lake.

He said according to the international law and treaties made with several countries having the similar situations countries are said to share the lakes and or rivers that bounds them noting that Tanzania was sharing Lake Gipe with Kenya where as Congo was sharing Lake Albert with Uganda.

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