The United Nations (UN) says dialogue and peaceful negotiations through a regional mediator are the best options to assist Malawi and Tanzania to resolve their dispute over Lake Malawi.
In an interview at the end of her three-day visit, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Helen Clark said although Malawi has referred the issue to the UN, the global body is convinced the issue could be resolved through dialogue and peaceful negotiations between the two countries.
â€œWe are convinced that Malawi wants peaceful negotiations. The question is who is best placed to facilitate, mediate or support the dialogue? Obviously, the UN looks to the role of the regional or sub-regional organisations to assist,â€ she said. But President Joyce Banda last week corrected that Lilongwe has not referred the matter to the UN or the AU, but just mentioned the issue to these bodies.
Clark said after hearing from Malawi, both through the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and when she also met Banda in Blantyre on Thursday, it was important that the UN hears from both sides of the dispute.
â€œWar is not an option. These countries have lived along each other peacefully for a long time. We want that to continue and we want to see how the international community and regional actors can support this,â€ she said.
Clark said during her Thursday meeting with the President, she (Clark) was briefed on the current status of the dispute and said she will have to report back to the UN Secretary General.
Malawi and Tanzania briefly opened up negotiations on the dispute in August before Lilongwe was forced to pull out following what it called provocative actions from Dodoma after Tanzania issued a new map showing a new boundary passing through the middle upper part of Lake Malawi.
Tanzania was also accused of harassing Malawian fishers and that it deployed a military boat which was conducting patrols on the disputed waters.
Besides meeting Banda, Clark, who is also head of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, also had an audience with UN agencies, the countryâ€™s development partners and donors, and local civil society organisations.
She also attended celebrations of the UN Day in Lilongwe on Thursday; visited various UN projects and programmes which included the Sustainable Business Project in Mtandile, Lilongwe; a Democracy Consolidation Programme in Ntchisi and UN Volunteer Programme at Kamuzu Central Hospital.