Thursday, March 27, 2014

Malawi - Government on Tuesday said statement by political leaders legally binds agreements and that confirms Malawi's sole ownership of Lake Malawi.

Malawi´s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ephraim Nganda Chiume was speaking in Lilongwe on the mediation meeting over the lake  dispute held in Maputo, Mozambique on 20 to 21 March, 2014.

"Late President Julius Nyerere, Prime Minister Rashid  Kawawa and former President Benjamin Mkapa informal comments were considered public statements for the record, depicting government's position on the matter, made after deliberation and review of historical and legal advice," explained Chiume.

He added that the statements were also not simply declarations against interest in the context of the Malawi-Tanzania dispute, but were motivated by Tanzanian concern at the time about its other borders more generally.

"The comments by Tanzania clearly show, therefore, that the issue engages important and detailed principles of international law that are relevant across the African continent, not simply for the Malawi-Tanzania dispute," he said.

The minister then said the High Level of Mediation Team (HLMT) told the meeting that the two countries had to look at the resources found in the lake, and to jointly come up with ways of optimally using and sharing the resources and that approach, the boundary issue would automatically fall in place and be easily resolved in the process.

"I explained Malawi's position that in as far as the matter is concerned, the fundamental issue is to determine first where the boundary lies. Who owns the lake and thereafter, the issue of resources that may found in the lake can be looked into," said Chiume.

The Minister said the issue of resources from the lake does not arise, since people from Tanzania have always had access to the lake, as provided in the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890.

The delegation at the meeting also further informed the HLMT that if hydro-carbon resources were found in the lake there was no way the country would have exploited these resources without involving Tanzania and Mozambique.

The minister then assured Malawians that the country has a sound case in law and confidence in the HLMT and believe that the dispute in question would be resolved amicably.

The HLMT then spelt out the importance of establishing the boundary first before considering how the resources in the lake can be shared after the Tanzanian counterparts also agreed on the establishment of the lake boundary before looking at the resources found in the lake.

The mediation team was meeting for the first time after the two countries has made submissions of their respective positions on the boundary at the beginning of 2013 and also submissions of the responses to the questions the HLMT had raised to the two countries.

The meeting was attended by former Presidents, Joacquim Chissano of Mozambique, Tambo Mbeki of South Africa, Festus Mogae of Botswana and high level team of Legal and Technical Experts that the HLMT engaged to advise on boundary, legal and ther related matters.

Copyright Malawi News Agency. Distributed by AllAfrica Global, 26.03.2014

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