Tanzania

Restoring ties top agenda as President Suluhu arrives Tuesday

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu is expected to make an official visit to Kenya on May 4, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • Tanzania’s bilateral relations with Kenya have been strained in recent years as Dar es Salaam and Nairobi clashed on multiple fronts including trade.

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan will on Tuesday begin a two-day State visit to Kenya on the invitation of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the two countries seek to mend and restore bilateral ties damaged under the presidency of John Pombe Magufuli.

Ms Hassan, who took office in March following the death of President Magufuli, will be hosted by President Kenyatta at State House for the bilateral talks, according to a dispatch from State House.

“Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania will arrive in the country on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 for a two-day State Visit to the Republic of Kenya,” said State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena Mararo in a statement.

A separate statement by the Tanzanian State House said President Hassan will — in addition to the bilateral talks — address business leaders from both Kenya and Tanzania to discuss business and investment opportunities in both countries.

Ms Hassan, will also address a joint sitting of Kenya’s Parliament, added Tanzania’s State House’s Director of Presidential Communication Gerson Msigwa in the statement.

Tanzania’s bilateral relations with Kenya have been strained in recent years as Dar es Salaam and Nairobi clashed on multiple fronts including trade.

President Hassan’s visit — her second official visit after Uganda since she took office — comes at a time Kenya and Tanzania have in the last four years had bruising fights over work visa, taxes and market access rights for items such as sugar, milk and dairy products.

This has affected bilateral trade between the two nations, prompting a series of meetings, including a summit in Arusha from November 12-16 last year to try and thaw the frosty ties.

The differences have threatened to slow down trade between the two countries, which amounts to Sh61.5 billion annually.

President Magufuli’s anti-corruption agenda, emphasis on hard work, fractious relations with multinational mining giants and significant investments in major public works, won him praise from many quarters.

But it went hand in hand with the narrowing of political space in Tanzania and strained bilateral relations with Kenya.

President Hassan has signalled a departure from the hardline stance, saying her administration is willing to work closely with Kenya with a view of “bolstering both nations’ trade ties and mutual interest.”

She stated this recently when President Uhuru Kenyatta dispatched Sports CS Amina Mohammed to deliver a message to her in Tanzania.