Uhuru and Magu­fuli re­vive joint team to im­prove ties

In March, Kenyan of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing En­ergy CS Charles Keter, had their pass­ports de­tained by Tan­za­nian of­fi­cials

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Presidency - NUM­BER ONE PART­NER OLIVER MATHENGE @Oliv­erMa­thenge

Pres­i­dents Uhuru Keny­atta and John Magu­fuli of Tan­za­nia yes­ter­day re­vived the Kenya-Tan­za­nia Joint Com­mis­sion for Co­op­er­a­tion to im­prove re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

The two di­rected their For­eign Af­fairs min­is­ters to en­sure the com­mis­sion meets be­fore the end of the year to look into all the is­sues.

The re­vival of the com­mis­sion was ne­ces­si­tated by the slug­gish re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries in the last cou­ple of years.

In March, Kenyan of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing En­ergy CS Charles Keter, had their pass­ports de­tained by Tan­za­nian of­fi­cials. They were on a fact-find­ing mis­sion on the best route the Ugan­dan oil pipe­line would take.

Yes­ter­day, Uhuru and Magu­fuli down­played per­cep­tions the two coun­tries have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing frosty re­la­tions, even as they said they hoped to im­prove co­op­er­a­tion in trade and se­cu­rity. “We speak of­ten with Pres­i­dent Keny­atta on the phone, but be­cause phone calls don’t al­ways get seen in pub­lic, some peo­ple don’t know. To­day, I want to say that we have al­ways been in touch,” Magu­fuli said dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence with Uhuru at State House, Nairobi.

He said he was in the coun­try to ce­ment the “cor­dial re­la­tions”, terming Kenya Tan­za­nia’s “num­ber one part­ner in Africa.”

But Magu­fuli also made it clear the in­ter­ests of his coun­try and those of the Tan­za­ni­ans come first, even as they join other coun­tries to push for re­gional in­te­gra­tion. “I have told Pres­i­dent Keny­atta about the re­al­ity in Tan­za­nia to en­able it to move for­ward. We want Tan­za­ni­ans to pay taxes, fight cor­rup­tion and en­able the coun­try to move for­ward. I have also as­sured the Pres­i­dent that Kenya is our part­ner num­ber one in Africa - there are more Kenyan firms in Tan­za­nia than any other African coun­try’s,” he said.

Magu­fuli said 529 Kenyan com­pa­nies have set up base in Tan­za­nia and in­vested more than Sh170 bil­lion, cre­at­ing more than 56,260 jobs.

Uhuru said the visit by Magu­fuli is im­por­tant, be­cause the two coun­tries share com­mon ideals and prin­ci­ples, such has democ­racy.

“Many for­get that Tan­za­nia and Kenya are among the very few coun­tries in the African con­ti­nent that have change of govern­ment through democ­racy,” he said.

Uhuru said they dis­cussed how to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion as a way of grow­ing the economies of the two coun­tries and cre­ate jobs for young peo­ple.

‘WE SPEAK OF­TEN WITH PRES­I­DENT KENY­ATTA ON THE PHONE, BUT BE­CAUSE PHONE CALLS DON’T AL­WAYS GET SEEN IN PUB­LIC, SOME PEO­PLE DON’T KNOW’

/REUTERS\THOMAS MUKOYA

Pres­i­dents John Magu­fuli of Tan­za­nia and Uhuru Keny­atta ad­dress a news con­fer­ence dur­ing his of­fi­cial visit to Nairobi yes­ter­day

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