Tanzania says lake dispute not over, to fastrack mediation: Sign pact with Malawi
Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Coorperation, Augustin Mahiga has said a dispute between his country and Malawi regarding their border through Lake Malawi also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania is still on.
Mahinga said after he signed on behalf of his government a Joint Permanent Commission Coperatuon (JPCC) agreement with Malawi in Lilongwe on Sunday.
“This lake border dispute is now under revived discussion,” said the Tanzanian Foreign Minister.
He said the matter is being handled by three member committee led by fromer president of Mozambique JoachimChissano and former presidents of South Africa Thabo Mbeki and Botswana.
Mahinga said despite this Lake Malawi issue, the two countries continued to cooperate in other areas including those of trade.
“In the middle of all this disagreements, we have managed to isolate it. We have cooperated in the areas of political and economic spheres. The Lake Malawi issue is just one isolated issue,” he said.
Malawi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francis Kasaila said both countries have agreed to restart stalled peace talks on Lake Malawi border disputes and speed up the process.
“His Excellency Professor Mutharika has told us to stay in constant talks with our counterparts in Tanzania until a lasting solution is found,” said Katsaira.
Katsaira said the government will be writing the high level negotiation team, comprising of retired African heads of state, to kick start the mediation process.
“We will be writing them this week so that they should know the starting point. The issue is, both Malawi and Tanzania are keen on the mediation talks. Our two principals want us to start the talks as soon as possible,” he said.
This follows the meeting of President Peter Mutharika and his Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli in Addis Ababa last week.
The neibhouring countries nearly went to war three years ago as Dar es Salaam claimed ownership of part of Lake Malawi after the discovery of oil in the lake.
Malawi disputes Tanzania’s claim to half the lake – Africa’s third biggest – which is potentially rich in oil and gas.
The neighbours have disagreed over their border since independence.
Malawi also wants Tanzania to withdraw a map that shows the border line passing in the middle of the disputed lake.
However, Tanzania argue that the map was needed for administrative purposes and reflected the “actual boundary”.