“Over the past two months, especially since the end of May, 2013, the relations between our country and Rwanda have been going through a tough time. Rwandan officials’ statements against me and our country is a proof of the deterioration of these relations.
Let me assure you, my fellow citizens and our Rwandan brothers. As the leader of the government and the people of Tanzania, I am committed to good relations and close cooperation with Rwanda as well as with all neighboring countries. Neighbors need each other, hence we must have a good relations and cooperation,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said on Wednesday July 31, 2013 as he closed his monthly address to the Nation.
Rwandan Officials’ Insults Are Directed at Tanzania and Myself, Says President Jakaya Kikwete
President Jakaya Kikwete was referring to the war of words that pits Rwandan against Tanzanian officials after he advised that the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda open negotiations with their armed opposition in order to bring long lasting peace and security to the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Africa (see our articles on the subject and UN Security Council on Great Lakes: Rwanda Subdued, Tanzania Maintains Stand, Threatens to Deal With Enemies Like It Did With Idi Amin of July 26, 2013).
President Kikwete added that he is aware of insults, slanders and demeaning behaviors of Rwandan leaders directed at his person, his country and his people.
Tanzanian People and Government Remain Committed to Peaceful Relations with Neighbors
He insisted that as the head of state of Tanzania, he remains committed to peaceful cohabitation and good relations with Tanzania’s neighbors. Below is an excerpt of his speech on Rwanda-Tanzanian souring relations:
It is a matter of fact that, in our national interest, we have promoted actions aimed at building good neighborliness and would strengthen our relations with our neighbors.
That is one of the main pillars of the Foreign Policy of Tanzania. That has been the tenet of our relations with the country of Rwanda, before and after the recent uncertainty. I would like to assure our Rwandan brothers that, as far as Tanzania is concerned, nothing has changed and the level of our cooperation has not declined.
Things are the same. For me, personally, I have not said anything against Rwanda, despite a lot of abusive words, insults and sarcasm coming out of the mouth of Rwanda leaders and aimed at me. Not because I do not know what was said, who said it and when, or that I have nothing to say. Of course not. I have not done this because I do not see the benefits from doing it. To me, I feel like there is some conflict. The sages have taught us that we should not fuel all conflicts. The British say that “two wrongs do not make a right”.
As you know our relationship with Rwanda has been good for many years. We cooperate and help each other so much between our countries in our region, bilaterally, in East Africa community, the Great Lakes Region, in the African Union, and even internationally.
Our relations seem to have deteriorate after I gave an advice to the Government of Rwanda to talk to their opposition. The advice was given in good faith, because I truly believe that if something can be resolved through dialogue, it is the best way to go.
Furthermore, the same advice was also given to the Government of the Congo and the Government of Uganda. At the meeting, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda echoed my statement. Rwandan president did not say anything at the meeting. It is after his return to Rwanda that we began to hear the words we hear and we continued to hear as of today.
I am really amazed by how they reacted to my advice and what they did. They absolutely overreacted and took my words out of context. My statements were based on my many years experience with the regional matters. We have been meeting in various conferences, and in meetings we talk openly and consult on ways to address problems and issues that occur.
On all the matters that are of common concern, giving advice is the responsibility of all of us. And very often we gave each other advice. Now, how is then that advising each other has become wrong and should be seen as ingenious?
Disagreement and insult! It’s not at all the same! Advice is not forced, advice is not a command. One must be willing to accept or to reject. A gentleman would have said: “I disagree with your advice.” No need to insult or use abusive or twisted words.
I would repeatedly say that I, personally, and our Government of Tanzania have no quarrel nor any serious conflict with Rwanda. We would like to maintain good relations with Rwanda.
Maybe Rwandan officials have a beef against us that we do not know. For us we heard a lot words spoken and actions allegedly by Rwanda against me and our country. We consider these as absurdities.”
Relations Between United republic of Tanzania and United States Are Good
In the national address, President Jakaya Kikwete also spend a deal of time on the recent visit by the US President Barack Obama (see our article here). He praised the good relations between the United States and the United Republic of Tanzania:
During his visit, President Obama emphasized his commitment and that of his government to further strengthen the relations and cooperation between our countries. He expressed satisfaction with the steps we have taken in our country to promote democracy and good governance and to invest in the development of our people. He promised to continue to support our efforts. To that end, he has promised to increase financial and technical aid in health, education, agriculture, roads, energy and youth development. He also confirmed that our country will continue to benefit from the funding of the second phase of the Millennium Challenge Fund. During this phase, our areas of priority are electricity and transportation infrastructure. Talks on the projects to be implemented in this phase are going well.”
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