14 July 2013

Malawi: Resolve Lake Malawi Wrangle By September 30 - Joyce Banda Tells Mediation Team

Lilongwe — President Dr. Joyce Banda on Sunday told Forum of Former Heads of State and Government that is mediating the Lake Malawi wrangle between Malawi and Tanzania to speed up the process.

The President made the remarks at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when she hosted representatives of the Forum former President of Mozambique, Joacquim Chissano and former President of South Africa, Thambo Mbeki.

"Your Excellencies, our expectation is that the Forum's role is to facilitate the parties to reach an agreement. If no agreement is made by 30 September, the Forum should recommend us to report the matter to International Court of Justice.

"The roadmap that was agreed, the Forum is expected to mediate over this issue for a period of three calendar months. We appreciate some of the challenges, but our government would be grateful if this process moves with speed," Dr. Banda said.

President Banda also expressed concern over Tanzanian's recent provocative statements of deploying boats on the lake, saying the Forum should urge Tanzania to cease making such statements to avoid inciting reaction from within Malawi.

She further explained that the lake entirely belongs to Malawi as it was agreed upon by former Presidents of Tanzania late Julius Nyerere in 1963 and Benjamin Mkapa.

"Malawi's position is that it owns the entire lake expected the portion ceded to Mozambique in 1954 for mutually beneficial reasons. This was agreed upon by former Presidents of Tanzania late Julius Nyerere and Benjamin Mkapa," she explained.

President Banda then commended the Forum for the good work it is doing on the continent in various areas particularly with the maintenance of peace and security, respect of rule of law and in ensuring that people are enjoying their fundamental freedoms peacefully.

In his response, Chissano assured the country that the matter would be dealt with urgency, saying the sooner this issue was resolved the better as the two countries are neighbours. He also explained that the matter should be resolved in a friendly manner to ensure that people of these two nations continue living in a peaceful manner.

"Let me assure you, Madam Excellency that Forum of Former Heads of State and Government will resolve the matter with urgency as requested by you. We would like to tell you that this issue will be resolved in a friendly manner," Chissano said.

Chissano also assured the country of neutrality, saying Malawians should entrust this Forum to resolve the matter without biases. He said the Forum would incorporate experts across the region and beyond to give their inputs before the final resolution was made.

"This matter will be treated with neutrality and that experts across the region will be asked to give their inputs regarding the matter," he explained.

Mbeki concurred with Chissano that the issue would be resolved amicably and with urgency, saying both parties should remain cooperative.

The Malawi delegation comprised Leader of Opposition in Parliament John Tembo, Dr. George Chaponda representing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Joseph Kubwalo for Labour Party and former envoy to Tanzania among others.

The Forum consists of 37 former Heads of State and Government.

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