Chissano agrees to mediate Malawi, Tanzania over Lake Dispute

Mozambique’s former president Joachim Chissano has agreed to mediate a border dispute over Lake Malawi amid oil exploration, Nyasa Times understands.

Malawi and Tanzania last week made a joint submission to the Africa Forum for former Presidents to mediate on their dispute over the boundary along Lake Malawi.

A delegation of the two countries delivered a submission on December 21 in Maputo, Mozambique to former president Chissano, the current chairperson of the forum.

Chissano accepted the request on behalf of the forum and commended the spirit in which the submission was made and said it signaled the commitment of the two countries to reach consensus on the matter.

He said “dispute is a dispute, anyone has his argument, sometimes each side may come with a strong argument.”

President Joaquim Chissano, Chairperson of Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government, with Malawi Minister for Foreign Affairs Ephraime Chiume and Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Benerad Membe.

Chissano said he would consult members of his forum and assured the two countries that a solution would be found.

The former Mozambique leader said that he was “humbled by the solidarity spirit” showed by both countries in finding a lasting solution to the long history and border dispute.

The two countries have been involved in a series of discussions and agreed at the Dar-es salaam meeting on November 17 2012 to refer the dispute to the forum.

“Having failed to reach a consensus, we are leaving the matter in the hands of the former heads of state of SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries to help mediate,” Chiume said.

Chiume also asserted that both countries have expressly requested that the Forum’s former Leaders that derived from Tanzania and Malawi should therefore be excluded in mediating this border dispute due to their immediate conflict of interest.

Those to be excluded include former president Ali Hassan Mwinyi (Tanzania), former President Benjamin W. Mkapa (Tanzania) and former President Bakili Muluzi (Malawi).

The Forum is expected to work on the matter for a period of four months or more starting January 2013, in an effort to find amicable solution to the Lake Nyasa border dispute

The two countries are at odds over their frontier on the southern African lake where each of the poor nations hopes to discover valuable natural resources.

Based on an 1890 colonial agreement, Malawi claims ownership of the whole of Lake Malawi.

Tanzania insists that half the lake falls within its borders and is already eyeing it for natural gas exploration.

The contentious part is a largely undeveloped swathe of the lake, where Malawi has awarded a licence to British firm Surestream to explore for oil in the northeastern waters near Tanzania.

The 29,600-square-kilometre (11,000-square-mile) body of water is Africa’s third-largest freshwater lake and lies in the Great Lakes system stretching along the East African Rift.

It is a major tourism attraction in Malawi and straddles one third of the country’s territory.

Tanzania calls it Lake Nyasa, taken from Malawi’s colonial name.

Tanzania’s Membe (2nd left), presents Joint Letter of Application to retired President Joaquim Chissano, Chairperson of the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.Others in the photo are Judge Frederick Werema;(left);Attorney General of Tanzania, Ephraime Chiume (2nd right), Minister for Foreign Affairs in Malawi and Mr. Anthony Kamanga(right), Attorney General of Malawi.

Chissano and Malawi, Tanzania foreign ministers

 

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