Mutharika, Magufuli urged to meet over Lake Malawi dispute

By Penelope Paliani Kamanga

LILONGWE – Mediators in the Lake Malawi boundary dispute have asked the Presidents of Malawi and Tanzania to meet as soon as possible to find a solution on the lake border row.

In a press statement issued by High Level Mediation Team (HLMT) from Pretoria South Africa led by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, the team proposed that Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and Dr John Pombe Magufuli should be briefed and consulted for further guidance on the resolution of the dispute.

They stated that the two heads of state should meet not more than three months from 12 July 2017, after which further directions shall be availed by the HLMT.

The mediation talks which were a follow up to the Maputo talks in March 2014 were held barely two months after the Tanzania leader allegedly refused to go for talks in May claiming they were busy, a move that irked his Malawian counterpart.

The Malawi delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francis Kasaila, and was accompanied by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu.

Kasaila opposed the unacceptable conduct of making unilateral decisions such as production of maps purporting to change the current Malawi/Tanzania boundary which Malawi rejected.

He asserted that both parties should avoid taking provocative actions which could escalate tension.

The statement insisted that the meeting was held in a cordial manner, reflective of the long standing relationship between the two countries.

During the meeting, the Malawi delegation reiterated the position of their  government on the Lake Malawi Boundary Dispute with Tanzania, re-affirming its position that the Lake Malawi boundary is the shoreline of Lake Malawi as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty.

In May, media reports said Malawi was planning to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.

Malawi, at 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.

Gas finds in the region have made the 50-year-old row over territory between Tanzania and Malawi more intense.

“The government of Malawi has been committed to the mediation process and peaceful resolution of the dispute through contact and dialogue but we are now ready to take Tanzania to the International Court of Justice because they have been stalling the mediation efforts since 2012,” Kasaila was quoted by Reuters as saying in May.

Tanzanian officials could not be reached for comment.

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