Malawi’s Banda courts Tanzania President on disputed lake

Malawi President Joyce Banda leaves the country on Wednesday for Maputo, Mozambique for a SADC summit but Nyasa Times understands that she is also due to hold talks with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on the disputed border in Lake Malawi.

Mozambique hosts the 32nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC in its capital city Maputo on August 17 and 18 which President Banda will attend.

SADC member states Angola (current chair), Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar (suspended), Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to  focus on hot-spots — Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On the sidelines of the summit,  Nyasa Timessources indicate that President Banda will meet Tanzania’s leader to hold “diplomatic talks” in a bid to ease tensions between the two countries.

President Banda heading to Maputo

Tanzania claims that 50 percent of the lake, which forms its border with Malawi, is part of its territory.

“There will be a meeting of our President and her Tanzanian counterpart in Maputo. This will be a high level diplomatic talks,” a source in the Malawi High Commission in Dar es Salaam said.

Another round of talks on ministerial level has been scheduled in the northern Malawian town of Mzuzu on August 20.

Tanzania demands Malawi to stop oil exploration in the northeast part of the lake to pave way for the ongoing discussions to resolve the crisis.

But Malawi Foreign Affairs Minister, Empraim Mganda Chiume, said the country will not halt exploration activities even in the face of war threats from Tanzania, saying the entire lake belongs to Malawi.

Last October, Malawi awarded oil exploration licences to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in Lake Malawi

In Tanzania, the lake is called Lake Nyasa, which is taken from Malawi’s colonial name.

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