DATE=12/13/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=WORLD COURT/NAMIBIA/BOTSWANA (L-O) NUMBER=2-257097 BYLINE=LAUREN COMITEAU DATELINE=THE HAGUE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Judges at the World Court at the Hague have settled a long-running dispute between Botswana and Namibia about ownership of an island in the Chobe River. The river forms part of the border between the two countries. Lauren Comiteau in the Hague reports by an 11-to-four decision, the court ruled the Kasikili / Sedudu island belongs to Botswana. TEXT: Officials from both Botswana and Namibia shook hands after the verdict was read -- underscoring previously stated intentions by both nations to abide by the court's ruling. The two countries jointly brought the territorial dispute to the World Court three-years ago, asking judges to decide both the boundary between them and the legal status of the island. It is a dispute that has its roots in colonial history, dating to an 1890 treaty between Germany and Britain. The island in question is three-and-one-half square kilometers, and it is under water for several months each year. Although no one lives there now, in the past it was used for growing crops. Today the island is important to both countries for tourism. And the question of who owns it has become a matter of prestige. Although judges declared the territory to be Botswana's, they also said both countries -- under terms of an earlier agreement -- must cooperate on all navigation and fishing matters in the area. Nambia and Botswana both say they will. But Albert Kawana, who argued Namibia's case at the World Court, said he is disappointed. /// KAWANA ACT /// I do not think there were strained relations. Because I said really, we are two democracies in southern Africa -- and of course with other democracies. But we are neighbors first and foremost, whether we like it or not, as neighbors we have to work together. /// END ACT /// Botswana's deputy attorney general, Abednego Tafa, agrees, saying he has no doubt that Namibia will abide by the ruling. /// TAFA ACT /// We are very happy with the verdict. In particular we are happy that the two countries decided to have the matter resolved before the court, instead of resorting to fights like happens in other countries. /// END ACT /// Despite recent media reports in Botswana about increased tensions between the two countries, both sides stressed peace and faith in democratic processes. The matter, at least legally, is now over. (SIGNED) NEB/LC/JWH/RAE 13-Dec-1999 10:02 AM EDT (13-Dec-1999 1502 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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