6 April 2013

Tanzania Upset As Malawi Withdraws From Negotiations

Photo: Egui/Flickr
Lake Tanganyika/Nyasa in the middle of the border dispute between Tanzania and Malawi respectively.

THE government has expressed disappointment over the decision by the government of Malawi to pull from the arbitration process, seeking to resolve the border dispute across Lake Nyasa.

Addressing the media in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Bernard Membe, said the decision made by President Joyce Banda to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was a bit unfortunate.

"Tanzania still has faith in the arbitration team led by former president of Mozambique, Joachim Chisano and two other former presidents from the SADC region working together with their legal experts," Membe explained. On behalf of Tanzania, Mr Membe requested the government of Malawi to return to the arbitration process, bearing in mind that the aspired settlement by ICJ has to be agreed upon by both sides.

"We still have faith in the adjudication team," Membe insisted. Other members of the mediation team include former presidents, Festus Mogae (Botswana) and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa). Highly respected lawyers are also on the team. "We (Tanzania) are not worried.

We sent experts to the UK and Germany to investigate into the legitimacy of the boundary. The evidence is incontestable. We are waiting for the team to wind up business and advise on the matter," Mr Membe said. Clarifying on the location of the border, Mr Membe said the government has a strong, convincing and indisputable evidence on the position of the border.

The minister also took the opportunity to refute allegations levelled by the government of Malawi that Tanzania obtained some confidential documents from the arbitration office. It was alleged that the documents were disclosed by the team's secretary, Dr John Tesha, a Tanzanian.

"Tanzania, and indeed the mediation team, are extremely shocked by these allegations," Membe explained. He said even if Dr Tesha leaked that information, which he never did anyway, the team's secretary is not linked to the negotiation process, adding that, the experienced retired presidents could adjudicate on the dispute amicably.

He named the lawyers supporting the team as ICJ retired Judge Raymond Ranjeva, Prof George Kanyeihamba, Uganda's High Court Judge (retired), Judge Baney Afako, a Legal Advisor to the African Union (AU) and Law Prof Gbanga Oduntun who has worked on the Nigeria/ Cameroon border dispute, among several others.

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