Malawi, Tanzania fail to agree on lake dispute: Next round of talks in Sept

The eight -day Malawi and Tanzania boarder diplomatic discussions that ended on Saturday in Lilongwe Capital City, was stalled, forcing the high-level government representatives to pursue, further,  the misunderstanding from September 10, 2012 in Dar es Salaam,  Tanzania.

This was expressed at a news Conference, Saturday,   in a communiqué that was produced and signed by Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume and Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Kamilia Membe respectively, at the end of the meeting at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi.

“After signing a communiqué which was produced from the discussions that representatives of both Malawi and Tanzania discussed, we are happy to announce to the media and all those who are concerned with the boarder misunderstanding issue, that we had a peaceful diplomatic negotiations in our meeting.

“We have finally agreed to meet again on September 10, 2012 in Dar es Laam in Tanzania to continue our discussions,” reads the Communiqué.

Malawi Foreign Affairs Minister, Chiume (left) Tanzania Foreign Affiars Minister Membe (right) : Fail to agree

The meeting also agreed to allow attorney generals of the two countries to evaluate the 1890 treaty which determined the border of the lake.

Highlighting what transpired at the meeting, Membe initially said he took the meeting as ‘very historic,’ emphasizing, “that was evidenced by having high-level officials of the two neighbouring countries engaged physically in the boarder  misunderstanding between Malawi and Tanzania.”

Minister Membe said:”The only thing I can say here is that we had good and peaceful discussions since Saturday, August 20, 2012 here in Malawi covering concerns of the two parties (Malawi and Tanzania boarder misunderstanding or disagreements.

“I thank all the officials and representatives of the two countries to this meeting. They made our discussions easy to follow and so focused, as they worked with dedication day and night, to the extent that some of them slept late at dawn.

“However our differences still remained unresolved, we need to go ahead with this meeting. We have agreed to meet in Tanzania from September 10 to 14, 2012,” said Membe.

He emphatically said they should handle the Malawi and Tanzania boarder issue with a degree of diplomacy, adding that as such the media fraternity should cover the misunderstanding with a sense of fairness, responsibility and ‘ especially avoiding being provocative’.

“We want to ensure that the people of the two neighbouring countries continue living in peace,” said Minister Membe

He hinted that exploration activities on the border areas that were affected in the misunderstanding should discontinue, adding that they should be stalled until the Dar es Salaam meeting reached conclusion.

Taking his turn, Chiume disclosed that the meeting was a follow up of a similar meeting the representatives of the two countries initially held in Tanzania on July 27, 2012.

He explained that before they arrived at the signing of the communiqué in Lilongwe Saturday, August 25, 2012 they started meeting at Mzuzu Hotel on Saturday, August 20, 2012, in the Northern Region.

Chiume said the boarder misunderstanding had existed for over 50 years, adding that it was important for the two neighbouring countries to arrive at an agreement, amicably, for people of both countries to continue undertaking their trading activities peacefully.

“This issue has been there for 50 years, even during the time of late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

“If we take long time solving this issue diplomatically, the people of the two countries would be negatively affected. So we need to speed up the process of solving it,” appealed Malawi Minister Chiume

He said he hoped when they meet in Tanzania in September the misunderstanding would be left to rest.

“I hope when we meet in Tanzania in September we put the matter to rest for good and forever,” he said.

The Malawi and Tanzania boarder issue has resurfaced as Malawi government engaged a company from Britain this year to explore on Lake Malawi and see if there were oil deposits.

The scenario had forced President Mrs Joyce Banda of Malawi to hold tete a tete (one on one ) closed meeting during the 32nd Southern African  Development Community (SADC)  Summit , which was held from 17th to 18th August, 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique.

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