Malawi President Joyce Banda on Sunday told mediators on the border dispute with Tanzania on Lake Malawi that she will not accept any interim deal over the lake until the wrangle is resolved.
“My government is not, at this time willing to entertain any interim agreement on say, the environmental issues or Tanzania usage of the lake until the sovereignty issue is resolved,” said Banda during a joint press conference with former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and Thabo Mbeki the former South African President.
The 38 member African Forum for former Heads of States is mediating the 50 year old lake dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.
Banda said that if the Forum fails to resolve the lake dispute by September 30 this year, she will take the matter to the international court of justice (ICJ).
“Our expectation is that the Forum’s role is to facilitate that the parties reach an agreement. If no agreement is made by 30 September the Forum should recommend that the parties proceed to the ICJ and ensure Tanzania’s commitment to the process,” she said.
Malawi, which sits to the west of Africa’s third-largest lake, claims the entire northern half of the lake while Tanzania, to the east, says it owns half of the northern area. The southern half is shared between Malawi and Mozambique
“Malawi’s position is that we own the entire lake – except for portion ceded to Mozambique in 1954 for mutually beneficial reasons. The law clearly supports that position,” she said.
She asked the two leaders to ask Tanzania to stop making provocative statements because of rising tensions that such statements are causing on the border towns.
President Chissano said that his team was going to take Malawi’s concerns to Tanzania and pledged to help resolve the dispute within the agreed period of three months.
Malawi returned to talks early this year aimed at resolving a dispute over Lake Malawi that has soured relations between the two countries and delayed exploration for oil and gas.
It had pulled out of the dialogue in October last year, accusing its neighbor of intimidating Malawi fishermen, a charge Tanzania denied.
In 2011, impoverished Malawi awarded oil exploration licenses to British-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in Lake Malawi, which is known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.