|Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete|
President Jakaya Kikwete and his Malawian counterpart, Ms Joyce Banda, stated categorically that their countries will never go to war with each other and called for patience as a joint committee works to find a lasting solution to the Lake Nyasa border dispute.
In a joint press conference convened at the Mozambican capital, Maputo, on Friday night, the two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to pursue diplomatic channels to ensure the wrangle was resolved amicably.
“There has been so much hype in the media and various blogs about military action between Tanzania and Malawi. But all this is misleading. We have never on our part considered that option,” said President Kikwete, noting that such talks were creating unnecessary fear and tension among the people of the two countries.
“I am the Commander-in-chief and have not given any order for military action. I therefore would like to reassure our people that we have no plans to go to war with our neighbours over this or any other issue that can be resolved diplomatically,” stated President Kikwete.
He said the committee comprising officials from Malawi and Tanzania are set to meet in Mzuzu and Lilongwe between August 20 and 25, and ought to be given time to come up with a workable solution to the saga.
He insisted that there were numerous ways to resolve the crisis, but war was not one of them. Ms Banda said she was grateful for the opportunity to meet her Tanzanian counterpart and quell rumours that the latter was contemplating military action.
“Malawians have been uneasy following these rumours and war reports. That is why we needed to talk. We know that Tanzanians and Malawians are peace loving people, hence no need for us to fight,” said Ms Banda, noting that many Malawians had Tanzanian relatives; hence they were one people and family.
She added that she was returning home happy and satisfied following her Tanzanian counterpart’s assurances that the dispute would be resolved without a bullet having to be fired. The conflict between the two countries followed move by Malawi to award an oil exploration licence to UK-based Surestream Petroleum last October to search for oil and gas in Lake Nyasa.
Tanzania has since asked the Malawi government to put on hold the exploration exercise until the border dispute, in which it claims portion of the lake, is resolved, a stand Malawi disputes claiming total sovereignty of the whole lake.