Former presidents of Malawi and Tanzania, Bakili Muluzi and Benjamin Mkapa, respectively, are not part of the mediating team on the Lake Malawi dispute.
Malawi’s foreign affairs minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume announced this at a press conference saying the two former heads of state are interested parties in the case.
Chiume also disclosed that Malawi has also appealed to the Forum of Former African Heads of State to remove the forum’s executive secretary, who is also a Tanzanian by nationality, out of the mediating equation.
“Still, we are hopeful that the case will go in our favour. We know all the figures involved are statesmen of higher integrity,” said Chiume.
In January, Chairperson of the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Governments and former Mozambiquan president, Joaquim Chissano, accepted the Government of Malawi and Tanzania’s December submission of a Joint Application of Mediation to the forum for assistance with negotiation over Lake Malawi’s boundaries.
The Government of Malawi, through Chiume, submitted its position on the dispute to Chissano in Maputo.
The forum has been requested to step in as the two countries failed to reach a consensus on the lake’s boundaries last year. The dispute has been linked to the oil reserves that lie below Lake Malawi. The Government of Malawi has already awarded two companies, Surestream Petroleum and SacOil, exclusive prospecting licences.
Earlier this month, the outgoing African Union Chair and Benin’s president, Thomas Yayi Boni, during his visits to Malawi and Tanzania, praised the two countries for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing ownership dispute.
Both Tanzania and Malawi’s presidents, Jakaya Kikwete and Joyce Banda, respectively, have consistently emphasised that the dispute will not end in conflict.