Malawi and Tanzania on Saturday announced that they had failed to resolve their dispute on the border of Lake Malawi and agreed to continue to push for a diplomatic and negotiated solution.
“After frank and spirited discussions between the two countries, we have concluded that our differences still remain,” Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe said at the end of a ministerial meeting.
Membe said the meeting agreed to take the diplomatic path with fresh meetings in Tanzania from September 10-14, saying “we have agreed that the answer to this dispute is a negotiated settlement.
“Only negotiations and diplomacy will solve this problem,” he added, saying that a joint technical committee of the two countries will thrash out the matter.
The minister said the two countries also agreed to “restrain themselves from making explosive and provocative statements and leave the issue to diplomacy. It’s about life, peace and security.”
Membe also said they had agreed oil exploration in the lake, particularly in the disputed areas, should “cease to allow space for negotiations to take place.”
He said the meeting also agreed to allow attorney generals of the two countries to evaluate the 1890 treaty which determined the border of the lake.
He said that determination will be made before the Tanzania meeting next month.
His counterpart Ephraim Mganda Chiume said Malawi had been negotiating in “good faith” and wants to “exhaust all channels” before referring the matter to the International Court of Justice for arbitration.
“We want to see whether negotiations will add value and give time to legal experts to interpret the 1890 treaty which determined that the lake border is on the eastern shore of Tanzania.”
He said the two countries want to “give mediation and diplomacy a chance. In Malawi, we feel the issue has taken too long to be concluded and we want to put it to rest for our people to live in peace. We want to expedite the resolution once for all because we have been talking for 50 years.”
He said Malawi will “go an extra mile to listen to any value we can get from mediation.”