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BOTSWANA-NAMIBIA: Governments reach new border settlement

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March 2003 (IRIN) - The governments of Botswana and Namibia have agreed on the demarcation of a border between the two countries along the Kwando, Linyanti and Chobe river.

A joint committee was established by the two governments to demarcate the borders between Botswana and Namibia running along a river which starts in the Angolan highlands as the Kwando, which then becomes the Linyanti and the Chobe river which divides the two countries.

"The committee finalised their work and the report was handed over to the presidents of the two countries at Ngoma in Namibia on Wednesday," Andre Hashiyana of Namibia's Office of the President told IRIN on Thursday. The two governments agreed to find the recommendations final and binding," Hashiyana said.

The Botswana Press Agency reported that economic activities, such as ploughing and fishing, would continue. It quoted Olifant Mfa, assistant minister in the Botswana Office of the President as saying that it was imporant for nationals of both countries to observe the boundary and emphasised the need for cooperation and good neighbourliness.

In 1999 the International Court of Justice was called upon to settle another border dispute over an island called Sedudu by Botswana and Kisikili by Namibia, also in the Chobe river, after the two countries were unable to agree on the matter.

Tensions over the island reached a peak when Namibia accused Botswana troops of occupying the disputed island illegally.

The settlements have their roots in the Anglo-German Treaty of 1890 which drew the border between the two countries during colonial rule. However, interpretation of the agreement and the countries' changing status from colonial rule to independence, led to the recent disputes.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict

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