Neighbors Rwanda, Tanzania mend relations

President Kagame of Rwanda (in green shirt) and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli inuagurationg Rusumo border post.

President Kagame of Rwanda (in green shirt) and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli inaugurating Rusumo border post.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli on Wednesday launched Rusumo One Stop Border Post and International Bridge joining both countries at Rusumo border which links Rwanda to Tanzania.

The colorful ceremony saw renewed relations and signing of a bilateral agreement between the two neighbouring states. The two East African neighbors had been engulfed in a diplomatic row resulting from comments made by John Magufuli’s Predecessor Jakaya Kikwete over the Dr Congo based FDLR rebels at an African Union Summit in 2014.

The relations were strained with the two countries nearly going for an all out war after Jakaya Kikwete became increasingly sympathetic and supportive of the Rwandan rebel group blamed for the 1994 genocide.

In comments made on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Kikwete was quoted as saying that the Kigali government should hold political peace talks with the rebel group sparking off angry reactions from the Rwandan government, with President Paul Kagame describing them as reckless, unacceptable and based on ignorance.

The Rusumo One-Stop-Border Post is a key installation designed to ease trade between the two neighbors under the auspices of the Central Corridor.

The two leaders said that the Rusumo One Stop Border Post and bridge will link both countries and improve their relations economically and socially.

“Peace is the foundation of the kind of cooperation that has potential to transform our two nations” Kagame said adding that they want trade to increase because that will be for the benefit of both the people of Rwanda and Tanzania.

President Magufuli said the inauguration of the bridge was historical and a pact of brotherhood between the two countries
“Africa has been blessed with resources, we have all we need to develop and transform our lives. Together we are stronger as East Africa,” he said.

President Kagame also invited President Magufuli to his home in the eastern province and gifted him five cows as a sign of renewed relations between the two countries.

During his two day official visit, President Magufuli is expected to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the Genocide by laying a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, as he joins Rwandans in a series of activities to mark 22 years since the Rwandan genocide in which over one million Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days. The activities will kick Thursday April 7.Magufuli also stated that his visit is also a learning experience for him and was anxious to be educated.

“Rwanda marks the first country I visit since I became President. I will learn a lot and I want to assure you that Tanzanians are your brothers.” he noted.

President Magufuli has gained mass popularity since his election in 2015 with stern measures against corruption and excessive government spending.