Tanzania Not Planning War With Malawi- Tanzania President
A State House statement said yesterday that President Kikwete gave this assurance in talks with the Malawi Head of State, in a meeting at Maputo on the sidelines of a conference of heads of state of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The two leaders held private talks on the contested border, which the State House statement quoted President Kikwete saying “I assure my sister Joyce and all people of Malawi that Tanzania is not intending to go on war with Malawi. There are no preparations for military incursion as there is no basic reason,” he said, insisting that he had issued no orders for any operations against Malawi.
These assurances were made during their talks, though he noted that the two countries had not yet resolved the issue. Officials of both countries will be holding meetings as a way of settling the dispute in a peaceful manner.
“Let us leave the matter to let our officers resolve it amicably and members of the media including security organs of both countries should not continue speculating and feeding rumours that are likely to sow chaos and political crisis. Speculation leaves no option for a peaceful settlement,” he said.
On her side, the Malawian president said she had her worries cleared after President Kikwete assured her of peaceful intentions in sorting out the disputed border issue, and ensuring that the border zone will remain peaceful.
“I am really happy as I am now relieved inwardly as this issue was troubling me since the news broke,” she said, thanking the Malawi media showing a patriotic attitude which has made Malawians to calm down as regards the issue.
The two day SADC meeting started on Friday and ended yesterday evening. At the meeting, Tanzania obtained the chairmanship of the political committee, defense and security earlier chaired by South Africa, whereas the SADC chairmanship shifted to Mozambique, from Angola. These positions are held for one year up to the next Heads of State meeting, officials said.
President Kikwete was expected to return home right after the meeting, having helped to bring a measure of relief to the sub-region following some saber-rattling in the past two weeks, especially in the National Assembly and media.
Hardly two weeks ago, strong words used in statements made by two senior leaders in Tanzania concerning the simmering Lake Nyasa border dispute cast a heavy cloud as to what shall happen.
Former prime minister Edward Lowassa, in his capacity as chairman of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, defence and security, said Tanzania was ready for anything if Malawi continues to allow companies to prospect for oil on Tanzania’s side of the lake.
He echoed earlier warnings from Foreign Minister Bernard Membe who warned Malawi that the Southern African nation would face military action if the prospecting continued, or landing planes on the Tanzanian side for prospecting purposes.
At one time the deputy speaker of the Malawi National Assembly was present after the warnings came up. There were also reports that the defence forces were building up positions on the Tanzanian side of the border, eliminating plane landings to prospect for oil and gas.