BLANTYRE—A two-day Southern African Development Community (Sadc) meeting which opened Friday will have to deal with a brewing border conflict between neighbours Malawi and Tanzania during the talks scheduled to end Saturday in the Mozambican capital Maputo, French News Agency (AFP) reported.
The decision by Malawi last year to licence British firm Surestream Petroleum to explore for oil in Lake Malawi, part of which borders Mozambique, sparked off the dispute. Tanzania has demanded that Malawi stops the exploration.
"If they start fighting we are going to host the refugees," Michael Sata, president of neighbouring Zambia, was quoted by AFP as saying.
Contacted by AFP, Malawi's President Joyce Banda said: "Officials from Tanzania and officials from Malawi are meeting. It would be wrong of me to pre-empt their discussions."
Sadc leaders are expected to discuss fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a political standoff in Madagascar at their annual summit.
"We are concerned by the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and give our support to re-establishing peace in this member of SADC," Mozambican leader Armando Guebuza, who took over Sadc’s rotational chairmanship, told the gathering.
About 250, 000 people have fled the eastern DRC since April when a rebel group calling itself M23 took up arms against government troops.
AFP quoted Armando Guebuza saying there was a need for mutual trust between Madagascar's strongman Andry Rajoelina and the man he toppled in 2009, Marc Ravalomanana.
The 15-member regional grouping is pushing Rajoelina and Ravalomanana to follow through on a political roadmap meant to steer the island nation toward elections.
But the return of Ravalomanana – convicted in absentia over the deaths of 36 protesters at the hands of the presidential guard - from exile in South Africa has complicated matters. He was consistently refused entry by Rajoelina.
Said Guebuza: "What can we do to help them achieve consensus? Let's continue to value and promote dialogue as a mechanism to move this process forward."
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.