Malawi, Tanzania open border talks, Chiume warns experts to avoid ‘careless talk’

Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ephraim Mganda Chiume has warned experts from Malawi and Tanzania to avoid careless statements in their discussions to iron out the border wrangle between the two countries over Lake Malawi.

“It is very easy for the discussions to break down and result in a stalemate. Let’s avoid making statements that can undermine the process. Let us remember that we are here representing the multitude of Malawians and Tanzanians… who want an urgent resolution,” Chiume said.

Chiume said this during the official opening of a five day meeting of experts from Malawi and Tanzania which started off on Monday at the Mzuzu Hotel to discuss the 50-year dispute, which stems from colonial-era border lines around the lake.

Chiume opening the meeting

“The international community is watching anxiously and our people are also following very keenly. Therefore have frank and open discussions taking into account all legal and historical facts behind this matter,” he said.

The meeting will end on Saturday 25th August in Lilongwe where a joint communiqué will be issued. The main task of this meeting of experts is for the two sides to exchange documents and hopefully reach a consensus.

The 24 member Tanzanian delegation is led by Dr Selassie Mayunga, Director of Surveys and mapping division in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments.

Mayunga told Nyasa Times in a separate interview that the meeting is not meant to mark boundaries again but to have negotiations on the dispute as per Africa Union directive of 2007.

Chiume concurred with Mayunga saying the meeting was not an opportunity for experts from either side to seek fame or score points but rather to do what is legally right for people of both sides.

“Therefore it is my appeal that this meeting of experts will be conducted in a courteous, friendly and diplomatic manner,” the minister said.

Chiume then urged the experts to reach an amicable solution saying at the political level there is a strong desire to clear this misunderstanding.

“We cannot keep talking on the same issue for 40 years. As you may recall Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete and Malawi’s President Mrs. Joyce Banda held discussions on the margins of the SADC summit in Maputo Mozambique on August 18th 2012.

“The two leaders recognize that out two peoples are one and have co-existed peacefully for many years. As such our two leaders have given us a mandate to reach an amicable solution for the sake of our people,” he said.

Rumors of a possible war between Malawi and Tanzania have recently been circulating in the two countries over Lake Malawi, which borders the two countries.

Tanzania is reportedly to have threatened war if Malawi continued oil exploration and does not share about 50 per cent of the lake.

Sharing notes: The experts
Minister Chiume and Tanzania experts
Group photograph of experts from Tanzania and Malawi meeting in Mzuzu on border row

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