Monday, August 26, 2013

EAC expresses concern over Tanzania-Rwanda tension

East African Community Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera. PHOTO/FILE

East African Community Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera. PHOTO/FILE 

By ZEPHANIA UBWANI in Arusha

The East African Community (EAC) admitted Monday that the stand off between Tanzania and Rwanda is a setback to regional integration efforts.

The secretary general Dr Richard Sezibera insisted the stand off between Tanzania and Rwanda has to be resolved, adding that efforts were underway to have the two countries sort out their differences.

Differences between Rwandan leader Paul Kagame and Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete started in May this year during the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia when the latter urged Rwanda to talk to the FDLR rebels operating in DR Congo.

This was followed by spat and verbal attacks against Kikwete and Tanzania by a section of the Rwanda government officials as well as the media.

President Kikwete said recently that he only made a suggestion and wondered why Rwanda was becoming hostile to a proposal which can end violence in the region.

"The issue has to be resolved. l am sure it will be resolved diplomatically", Mr Sezibera told journalists at the EAC headquarters in Arusha in his first reaction since the two countries started trading words on the issue.

PORT

He denied knowledge of reports that Rwanda and Uganda were contemplating to stop using the Dar es Salaam port and questioned the authenticity of the information which, according to him, did not originate from the Rwandan officials.

"These reports are news to me. I have not heard that and EAC has not been notified of that", he stressed.

The EAC boss also denied that President Kagame has missed several regional summits.

"Unfortunately, I have not recorded the attendance of regional leaders to the summits but Kagame was in Nairobi during the EAC Ordinary Summit", he said.

GENOCIDE

Mr Sezibera avoided the Tanzanian proposal but said armed forces  which were responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda were still active in the Great Lakes Region.

He said other "negative forces" which were still active in the East African region included the FNLA in Burundi, ADF and LRA which have been fighting the Uganda government and Al Shabaab militants from Somalia fighting Kenya.

On the recent expulsion of  illegal immigrants from Kagera region in Tanzania, the EAC boss said from the legal point of view, it was the right of the country to do so. However, he said  the move was not good for the spirit of East African cooperation.

He said there were allegations of human rights abuses during the expulsion of aliens from Tanzania to Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and the EAC would soon dispatch a team to the area to verify the allegations.

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