TITLE=WORLD COURT/NAMIBIA/BOTSWANA (L-O)
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.
13-Dec-1999 10:02 AM EDT (13-Dec-1999 1502 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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