Britain plays the neutral on Malawi, Tanzania border dispute

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Britain, Malawi’s former colonial master, has urged both Malawi and Tanzania to resolve the ongoing border dispute peacefully amid tension between the two neighbouring countries over Lake Malawi.

In a brief e-mail response, Kirk Hollingsworth, the British High Commission spokesperson said the ongoing border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over the north-east Lake Malawi boundary is a matter for the Malawi and Tanzanian governments to resolve.

“We are encouraged by the commitment of both governments to a peaceful resolution of the dispute,” said Hollingsworth when he was asked about Britain’s position on the matter.

Britain and Germany, Tanzania’s former colonial masters, drew the map between Malawi and Tanzania which shows the boundaries, including that of the disputed lake.

President Joyce Banda ordered Malawi out of the dialogue with Tanzania after reports that Tanzania was patrolling the disputed part of the lake and that some Malawian fishermen were harassed.

Chancellor College, Law Professor, Edge Kanyongolo, concurred with Hollingsworth that there should be a peaceful resolution between Malawi and Tanzania.

“It will be illegal to go to war with Tanzania. The use of force is such circumstances is illegal. We cannot attack Tanzania and Tanzania cannot attack us.

International law says these issues must be resolved amicably,” said Kanyongolo.

Kanyongolo also said in these hard economic times, both Malawi and Tanzania will lose out if they decide to suspend peace for war.

According to published reports in the local media, the Anglo-German Treaty also known as the Heligoland gave Malawi the sole ownership of the disputed lake but President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania says the treaty was flawed.

Malawi is taking the matter to the International Court of Justice after Tanzania produced a new map showing the new boundary as being in the middle of Lake Malawi and not at the north eastern.

Opposition politicians and traditional leaders have since urged President Joyce Banda to handle the issue peacefully.

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