Malawi has asked United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to mediate in its Lake Malawi boundary dispute with Tanzania, a senior government minister has said. ”The Tanzanians want (the Southern Africa Development Community) SADC to mediate but we have asked the United Nations Secretary General to mediate,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume.

Chiume, who led a team of Malawian government officials on a tour of the border district of Karonga Thursday where he assured residents of government protection following the simmering tensions, said the border wrangle “will be well handled”. He said Malawi has not given up hope that an amicable solution would be found.

To show solidarity with the Tanzanians the Malawi government delegation went as far as Kiyera inside Tanzania where District Commissioner Margareta Esther Malenga also assured the Malawi delegation of a peaceful settlement. ”We went to Kiyera to demonstrate that there was no cause for panic,” he said.

Tanzania resuscitated the age-old border dispute with Malawi after the administration of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika awarded a British firm oil exploration concession in the lake. Dodoma urged Lilongwe not to go ahead with the exploration until the border dispute was resolved.

Lilongwe, backed by the 1890 Heligoland Treaty between Great Britain and Germany which gave the entire lake to Malawi, said Dodoma has no issue. But Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete is quoted as faulting the century-old treaty. Malawi’s founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda first tussled with his Tanzanian counterpart Julius Nyerere over the lake in the 1960s. Banda prevailed.

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