World / East Africa
Monday, 31 Oct 2016 16:01 EAT
President Uhuru Kenyatta hugged and embraced his visiting Tanzanian compatriot John Pombe Magufuli today in an encounter many expect to mark the start of an effort by the two leaders to improve relations between themselves and the two countries. The Tanzanian leader was also accorded a 21-Gun Salute, the highest honour Kenya can give a foreign guest, at State House Nairobi.
The two leaders held constructive bilateral talks and later gave a joint media briefing where they emphasized the friendly relations between Kenya and Tanzania. This was in addition to President Magufuli visiting the mausoleum of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta at Parliament Buildings, to pay his respects to the father of the current Kenyan president.
The President, who will be in Kenya for two days, will officiate at the opening of the Southern Bypass in Nairobi as well as visit a dairy farm in Karen. His visit offers Kenya a chance to renew and deepen the two countries’ relations after months of suspicion between the two sides.
This is the first visit by the president to Kenya since his election in October 2015, and only his third since assuming power. The other trips were to Uganda and Rwanda. A leftist, the president is very critical of current leadership in East Africa and has criticised the corruption in the region. During Tanzania's election of October 2015 that he won, all the region's presidents were believed to have supported his opponent Edward Lowassa.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said of the visit: “The two Heads of Government will discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest at the bilateral and regional level. Our focus will be on the areas in which there already has been consultation, and where we can expect concrete results to be announced”.
It was expected that the two leaders would talk about Tanzania's commitment to East Africa federation, which Magufuli's government has been inclined to slowdown. There are also issues of work permit fees Tanzania charges Kenyan nationals, as well as the high university fees charged to Kenyan students.
Discussions on non-tariff barriers between both countries and operation of tour vans across the borders was also on the agenda.