Tanzania threatens military force in border tensions with Malawi

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Special correspondent

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Defence, Security and Foreign Affairs said the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces are well prepared for any operation to safeguard the country’s borders against Malawi’s claims, but advised the government to use diplomacy to resolve the conflict.

Addressing journalist, the Committee Chairman Edward Lowasa said that the Tanzania army has been alerted on the matter and was ready to respond to any threat.

A mid of controversies, the committee’s statement has come following unfolding tensions with the Malawian government which has claimed ownership of Lake Nyasa, deploying oil and gas companies to undertake exploration activities beyond its territorial borders.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday which was also attended by a team of TPDF officers, Lowasa said it was the wish of the committee to see the two governments resolve their disputes diplomatically.

“We have discussed in the committee about our relations with Malawi, Our military officers say they are fully prepared against any attack,” he said, adding that still there is a room of resolving issues by means of diplomacy.

On Monday, Tanzania foreign affairs minister called on Malawi and companies carrying out oil and gas exploration in the eastern part of Lake Nyasa to stop, until the two governments had agreed and resolve border disparity.

According to Bernard Membe, the Tanzanian government was committed to ensure its people are protected “at any cost”. “We don’t want to go to war with Malawi; therefore, we want all diplomatic efforts to exhaust.

He said while diplomacy was working on the matter, going on with those activities in the disputed lake would jeopardise the current negotiations and pose a security threat.

Lives of more than 600,000 people rely on the lake, which borders Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.

He assured Tanzanians living along the lake shores to continue with their daily activities, without fear as the government was working on the crisis.

The minister also said that Tanzania’s security authorities have also spotted some aircraft alleged to belong to the oil and gas exploration companies from Malawi flying in the Tanzanian airspace without clearance from the Tanzania Aviation Authority.

In 2011 the government of Malawi awarded gas and oil exploration contract to the UK based Surestream Petroleum Company and is currently conducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Lake Nyasa.

The company which is an independent, UK-based oil exploration company, founded in September 2004, has offices in Reading (UK), Paris (France), Dubai (UAE), Kinshasa and Muanda (Democratic Republic of Congo), Bujumbura (Burundi) and Lilongwe (Malawi).

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