Magufuli absent as 47 foreign delegations attend Uhuru fete

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

About 47 foreign delegations including 23 heads of State or their deputies joined thousands of Kenyans to witness the swearing-in of President Uhuru Kenyatta for his second term in office.

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli, however, skipped the event, despite earlier indications that he would attend. State House had earlier confirmed his attendance.

Instead, Tanzania sent vice president Samia Suluhu to represent President Magufuli at the ceremony.

East African Community presidents, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) led other eight heads of states and government in witnessing the swearing-in.

Others who attended the ceremony were South Sudan President Salva Kiir who was the first to arrive in Kenya on Sunday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed (Somalia). Ismail Omar Gulleh (Djibouti), Ian Khama (Botswana), Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Hage Geingob (Namibia) and Edgar Lungu (Zambia).

Nigeria sent its vice president Yemi Osinbajo while former South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Ghanaian counterpart John Dramani Mahama also attended the swearing-in ceremony.

“Several countries from America, Europe, Middle East and the Far East have sent powerful delegations to represent them at the auspicious occasion,” State House said in a dispatch.

Kenya and Tanzania have had frosty trade and diplomatic relations following the election of President Magufuli in October 2015, derailing business between the two neighbours to the detriment of entrepreneurs who depend on it.

For a long time, Tanzania has been Kenya’s second largest export market after Uganda, underlining its importance as a trading partner.

In the five months to August, Kenya’s exports to Tanzania fell by 34 per cent to stand at Sh8.2 billion compared to a similar period last year.