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Malawi rules out war with Tanzania over disputed lake

LILONGWE (AA) – Malawian President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of going to war with neighboring Tanzania over an ongoing border dispute involving Africa's third largest freshwater lake.
"Yes, I said [the] Lake Malawi issue is not negotiable, but we cannot go to war with Tanzania over the lake," President Mutharika told a press briefing.
During his presidential campaign, Mutharika had said the border dispute with Tanzania – which revolves around the disputed lake – was not negotiable. But the newly-elected president confirmed on Tuesday that he had discussed the issue with Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete at a recent U.S.-Africa leaders' summit in Washington. He said they had only discussed matters related to fishing in Lake Malawi by citizens of both countries. President Mutharika said his government would review what former president Joyce Banda's government had presented to former leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regarding the dispute.
"We will let the channel of discussion that was established between the two countries to continue while we are reviewing how far the discussions had reached," he said.
State House sources say Mutharika has invited Kikwete to visit Lilongwe. According to observers, Mutharika is desperate to find an amicable solution to the lake dispute. For decades, Malawi and Tanzania have been at loggerheads over the lake's boundaries. While Malawi claims ownership of the entire lake citing a 1890 agreement between Britain and Germany, Tanzania insists that the northern side of Africa's third largest freshwater lake falls within its territory. The issue gained new currency recently after Malawi granted exploration rights to British firm Surestream to prospect for oil in the northeastern part of the lake. A grouping of former SADC heads of state and government, led by former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano, is currently mediating the dispute at the request of both countries.
By Moses Michael-Phiri

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