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President Jakaya Kikwete Should Mediate between Rwandan Armed Opposition and General Paul Kagame, Says Tanzanian Opposition Leader

Dr Willibrod Slaa, Secretary General of CHADEMA, addressing the Media in Dar-es-Salaam on August 4, 2013

Dr Willibrod Slaa, Secretary General of CHADEMA, addressing the Media in Dar-es-Salaam on August 4, 2013

President Jakaya Kikwete should  mediate between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the FDLR rebels instead of calling the president of Rwanda to meet with the rebels,  a call at the source of negative feelings and that has  jeopardized the relations between the two countries… He [President Jakaya Kikwete] should have invited  both the rebels and the Rwandan President Paul Kagame to sit at the negotiation table. It is hard to  tell people who have been killing each other to engage into direct negotiations [without a mediator]. Instead, President Jakaya Kikwete should have offered to mediate and call for reconciliation,” said Dr Willibrod Slaa, Secretary General of the Party for Democracy and Development (CHADEMA), the main Tanzanian opposition party, on Sunday August 4, 2013, in  Dar-es-Salaam. He was reacting to the Monthly Address to the Nation by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (see our article Relations Between Rwanda and Tanzania Have Soured, President Jakaya Kikwete Says of August 3, 2013).

President Kikwete should meet President Kagame in order to avoid war,” Dr Slaa added saying that he feared the two countries may go to war if the rhetoric among the two leaders would escalate further:

I do not want the war to erupt between the two countries because of the statements of the two leaders; we are talking about attacking and being attacked here! For the sake of the citizens of the two nations, citizens who are brothers and sisters,  the two presidents should meet and iron out  their differences.

Contradiction among the CHADEMA leaders 

The comments by the Secretary General of CHADEMA Dr. Willibord Slaa appear to contradict  earlier comments from Zitto Kabwe, Deputy  chairman of  CHADEMA.  Mr. Zitto Kabwe had come in support of President Kikwete  in response to insults from Rwandan leaders directed at the Tanzanian president. He  said (see our article You Will Be Whipped Like a Small Boy, Tanzania Government Warns Rwandan Dictator General Kagame of July 13, 2013):

“If you don’t want advice you simply refuse, why start hurling insults? You don’t want advice, that’s it. Why petty insults? Since Kikwete said what he said in Addis, he never spoke of it again. Membe (Foreign Affairs Minister) replied in Dodoma and Tanzania didn’t say anything afterwards. Why is Kigali still going on about this? 

Comparing Rwandan armed opposition to Taliban and Al Qaeda? Nonsense. Children born in 1994 and Hutu refugees in Congo, are they killers too? Let us think very carefully on this. Indeed if there are genocidaires, they should be pursued, arrested, tried and convicted.  But the majority are people who have the full rights  to participate in the politics of their country Rwanda. They have been prevented from doing so by the current government of Rwandan and hence,  have  resorted to arms. With these people, the Rwandan government  must sit …sit at the negotiation table, hold direct talks,  and come to an agreement.

There is no need for the two countries to go to war against each other. We have other wars to fight, such as poverty. 

Neutral leaders like Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta should mediate between Kagame and Kikwete and help them iron out their differences.”

Given the two contradictory statements, it appears that Tanzanian opposition is divided on how to deal with Rwandan leaders and the role that Tanzania Government should play. What is clear, is that the two CHADEMA leaders, like the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete supports negotiations between the Rwandan President  General Paul Kagame and his armed opposition.

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