Tanzania makes a U-turn on Lake Malawi mediation

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Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has said there is no need yet to involve a mediator over border dispute with Malawi as the two countries are already in talks.

Kikwete, who was responding to journalists on Wednesday in Arusha, Tanzania, said there is no need to involve Sadc as a third party because he had just talked to Malawi over the issue in the morning.

Ironically, Kikwete’s latest position that his country is still engaged in talks with Malawi comes days after his Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe told reporters in Tanzania after a closed-door meeting with European Union (EU) envoys in Dar es Salaam last Friday that the two countries had failed to agree on a common ground.

Membe disclosed that Tanzania is contemplating taking the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing there is now need for the matter to be handled at the highest level of international arbitration.

But Kikwete yesterday contradicted his foreign affairs minister, telling journalists that Malawi and Tanzania are in talks over the Lake Malawi border dispute.

Said Kikwete: “We appreciate that it is the responsibility of Sadc to intervene when its member States are in dispute over an issue, but not at the moment when I have just been talking to Malawi this morning over the same issue.”

Addressing a media briefing just after the launch of the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (Sipo) 11 of promoting Peace, Security and Stability in Arusha, Kikwete said the matter is still at the level of the two countries.

But Malawi’s Information and Civic Education Minister Moses Kunkuyu said in an interview on Wednesday that he is not aware of Tanzania’s latest position.

Kunkuyu said what he was aware of as of Saturday was that the two parties, after talks collapsed, agreed to write reports to Sadc former heads of State to mediate on the matter. He said Tanzania might have communicated through Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but was unable to crosscheck because he was in Kasungu.

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