Press Statement: Status of the mediation process over the Lake Malawi boundary dispute (13 May 2017)

20170513 Press Statement Statuse of Mediation Process over Lake Malawi Boundary Dispute

Government of Malawi

PRESS STATEMENT

May 13, 2017

STATUS OF THE MEDIATION PROCESS OVER THE LAKE MALAWI BOUNDARY DISPUTE

The Government of the Republic of Malawi wishes to express concern over the sudden postponement of the mediation talks over the Lake Malawi boundary dispute with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania which were scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, on 8th and 9th May, 2017.

This postponement further protracts the conclusion of the matter. The resumption of the Mediation Process emanated from the meeting His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi had with his counterpart, His Excellency Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania on the sidelines of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30th January, 2017.

During the meeting, the two leaders resolved that the Mediation Process on the Lake Malawi boundary dispute be revived after a prolonged break since March 2014.

Consequently, His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and the Chairperson of the High Level Mediation Team (HLMT), invited the Governments of Malawi and Tanzania to resume the mediation talks which were scheduled to take place from 8th to 9th May, 2017. Malawi confirmed its participation after consultations with Tanzania. However, on 4th May, 2017, the Government of Malawi received communication on the postponement of the meeting by the Chairperson of the HLMT at the instance of the Government of Tanzania.

The Government of Malawi wishes to inform the public that the Mediation Process was approved by the Council of Ministers of the Governments of Malawi and Tanzania which took place on 17th November, 2012. The two Governments agreed to engage the HLMT, chaired by His Excellency Joaquim Chissano. Other members of the team include His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa, and His Excellency Festus Mogae, former President of the Republic of Botswana.

The HLMT convened the first mediation talks from 20th to 21st March, 2014, in Maputo, Mozambique, where the Governments of Malawi and Tanzania submitted their respective positions. The position of the Government of Malawi is that the boundary is the shoreline of Lake Malawi as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty. Thus, according to Malawi, Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi in its enterity. On the other hand, the Government of Tanzania claims that the boundary is the median line of the Lake based on principles of customary international law.

Therefore, the issue that requires resolution is the position of the boundary as expressed by both parties to the HLMT. However, the HLMT proposed that the parties should consider how they can jointly exploit and share the resources found in Lake Malawi, before establishing the position of the boundary between the two countries.

The HLMT was of the view that through the benefits accrued in the process, the boundary dispute would eventually be resolved. However, both Malawi and Tanzania delegations did not agree with the HLMT on the proposal and reaffirmed that the boundary issue be resolved first. The HLMT, therefore, promised to proceed on the basis of submissions by the two countries and advise on the next course of action at the subsequent meeting.

The Government of Malawi is also astounded with the recent statement attibuted to Her Excellency Victoria Mwakasege, High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to Malawi in the media that her Government wants to have a share of the oil resources as this has never been Tanzania’s position from the beginning.

The Government of Malawi continues to be committed to the Mediation Process and peaceful resolution of the dispute through contact and dialogue. Malawi believes that the HLMT has the capacity to decisively make a determination on the dispute, in a logical and timely manner, and on the basis of long established principles

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION,
LILONGWE 3

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