New British Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds has said London wants an amicable solution of the border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over boundaries of Lake Malawi which the two countries share. Simmonds made the remarks in London on Monday when he held talks with Malawi President Joyce Banda when she made a stop-over in London en route to New York.
”President Banda spoke of her recent discussions with President (Jokaya) Kikwete of Tanzania over the boundaries of the lake which borders Malawi and Tanzania,” he said in a statement issued after the talks. “I urge both leaders to resolve the dispute peacefully.”
Simmonds also said he was “pleased” with the normalisation of diplomatic relations between London and Lilongwe. ”I am pleased that our new High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin, has arrived in Lilongwe and has already held substantive discussions with Her Excellency the President,” he said.
The relations between Malawi and Great Britain – Malawi’s former colonial masters and largest aid donor – turned frosty when the late President Bingu wa Mutharika expelled former British envoy to Malawi Fergus Cochraine-Dyet in April 2011 when a diplomatic cable leaked where the British diplomat described Mutharika as increasingly turning “autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.
London reciprocated by expelling Malawi’s then top diplomat Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga and suspended all development aid to Malawi. When Mutharika died suddenly of cardiac arrest in April this year his successor Joyce Banda immediately went on a charm offensive to London resulting in the normalisation of the diplomatic relations.
Simmonds, the new Africa minister, said he also discussed with President Banda the importance of strong relations between the United Kingdom and Malawi. ”Particularly how we can work together to boost economic ties,” he said.
President Banda has since arrive in the United States where she is scheduled to make her maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 25.