Malawi protest Tanzania plans to deploy two vessels on lake

Malawi government has protested against plans by Tanzania to deploy two passenger vessels on Lake Malawi  (known in Tanzania as Lake Nyasa) .

In a formal protest letter to Tanzania against the  reports presented in their National Assembly that they want  to deploy two passenger vessels on the lake, Lilongwe has said the development threaten mediation efforts to resolve a long-standing border dispute.

The talks are being mediated by Mozambique’s former president Joachim Chissano.

Malawi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Chiume said on 20th May, 2013, during Parliament Session, Dr. Harris Mwakayembe, Minister of Transport of the United Republic of Tanzania, told Parliament that his Government will purchase six new passenger ships and two of them will be deployed on Lake Malawi. He indicated that plans to bring the new ships were at an advanced stage.

Malawi Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume: Protest
Malawi Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume: Protest

Chiume noted that similar statements were reiterated by the Secretary General of ruling  Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Adulrahman Kinana, at a political rally that the Government has started making arrangements for the purchase of ships, which will be launched on Lake Malawi before the next general elections.

“The Malawi Government has, in its protest note to Tanzania, condemned these statements as this runs counter to the spirit and intent of the mediation process taking place on the Malawi-Tanzania dispute over the Lake boundary,” said Chiume.

“ The Malawi Government found these developments unfortunate, especially coming at a time when the mediation process over the boundary dispute is going smoothly,” he added in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.

Malawi stressed  that the two parties need to desist from acts or statements that will erode trust from the mediation process.

“The Malawi Government, therefore, urges the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to desist from launching vessels or indeed undertaking any acts on the disputed territory, as this will jeopardize the current mediation process.”

Malawi is disputing Tanzania’s claim of ownership of part of Lake Malawi.

The southern African nation, which sits to 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.

Malawi angered Tanzania in 2011 when it awarded exploration licenses to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in the disputed northern area.

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