BY OSWARD KAYANGE
Malawi President Peter Mutharika’s mission to forge a good diplomatic relationship with his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli appeared to bear some fruits on Monday as the two leaders held discussions on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa that even saw the pair hold hands and uttered cordial words.
Unity of purpose: Presidents of Tanzania and Malawi with their Foreign Ministers join hands to tout good relationship
President Magufuli and President Mutharika: We are cool like that
Magufuli greets Malawi ambassador to Ethiopia , Chimango Chirwa
Mutharika hugs Magufuli after talks
State House officials have put under lock and key the outcome of the meeting which was held in camera.
However, they showed pictures of Mutharika and Magufuli holding hands in a photo opportunity at the discussions.
A video clip also emerged with both leaders sloganeering starting with Magufuli saying “Malawi woyee!” and Mutharika reciprocated by saying “Tanzania woyee!”.
Presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said from Addis Ababa that following the meeting, it is expected President Mutharika and President Magufuli will forge “a fantastic relationship.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Francis Kasaila also told Nyasa Times that the discussion represent a “diplomatic success” between the two countries.
Tanzania presidential spin doctor Gerson Msigwa said the relationship between the neighbours “is going to get on very well”
The discussions are taking place as relationship between Malawi and Tanzania continue to be strained following Tanzania’s decision to claim ownership of Lake Malawi – which is potentially rich in oil and gas.
Malawi disputes Tanzania’s claim to half the lake – Africa’s third biggest.
But Malawi government officials said this issue is not on the agenda at the African Union summit.
Malawi also arrested a group of Tanzanians accused of spying on Kayelekera Uranium mine in Karonga.
The matter is in court.
Meanwhile, Mutharika’s meeting with Magufuli comes at the back of tight scheduled for the Malawian leader.
Presidential spokesman Kalilani confirmed that President Mutharika knocked off late on day 1 of assignments at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Among the assignments the President attended included the closed session of the AU Heads of State and Governments, the opening ceremony of the summit and later a bilateral meeting with President Magufuli.
The AU summit opened under the theme suggested by Malawi: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres was present at the summit opening.