March 7, 2019

President Magufuli Likely To Mediate Rwanda-Uganda Standoff

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R-L: Presidents Paul Kagame, John Pombe Magufuli and Yoweri Museveni during the 17th Extraordinary EAC Summit in Dar es Salaam, September 8, 2016

President Paul Kagame arrives in Tanzania this Thursday where he is expected to meet and hold bilateral talks with President John Pombe Magufuli.

Kagame is also expected to request President Magufuli to mediate the Uganda problem, highly placed sources in Government told The Chronicles.

Both Presidents Kagame and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda are on good terms with Magufuli, and Tanzania as a country.

Kagame was in South Africa yesterday where he met President Cyril Ramaphosa at a dinner of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

South Africa is also part of the axis through which Rwanda’s concerns originate since the country hosts Kayumba Nyamwasa, who heads the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and its alleged armed wing “P5” based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kayumba is essentially believed to be the ringleader of the group that the Rwanda Government says is being bankrolled by Uganda’s leadership.

No details were availed as to what Kagame and Ramaphosa discussed at that dinner table, or if at all, in any closed door meeting.

The Chronicles can confirm though that Kagame may have settled on having Magufuli, with whom they have enjoyed a rare bond, to bridge the gap with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday evening confirming Kagame’s visit.

Rwanda has made it abundantly clear, through its Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Richard Sezibera that it has “three outstanding issues” against Uganda. It has also made it known that there will be no letting go until those issues are resolved.

Dr. Sezibera named the three issues to be: support to individuals and groups bent on fighting the government; arresting, torturing and deporting Rwandans as well as economic sabotage.

In response, Uganda’s foreign Minister Sam Kutesa issued a statement denying all the accusations and President Museveni followed by instructing all Ugandan officials not to comment on the matter further.

As some people wondered what next after this outright denial, it seems, President Kagame has determined that it might help to seek the diplomatic services of Magufuli.

President Magufuli brings on board plenty of cards. He is friends with Kagame and on good terms with Museveni by virtue of Tanzania’s ruling party’s association to his NRM.

Therefore, although Magufuli came into the “Presidential Camp” recently, and the two have been around for some time, both have close links with Chama Cha Mapenduzi (CCM) and respect for the Tanzanian leadership for its role in the liberation struggle on the continent.

And unlike former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete who raised a diplomatic firestorm when he suggested peace talks with the FDLR militia which strained relations with Kigali, Magufuli reversed the trend and is often heard complementing the Kigali leadership.

The other factor making Magufuli stand out as the person who can tackle the standoff is because he is the only leader in the wider great lakes today who has no particular crisis on his hands.

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta is dealing with a serious border crisis with Somalia and demonstrating aviation workers. He has had to actually enlist Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to mediate the Somalia conflict.

Burundi, of course, is off the table due to its internal conflict and the general lower standing of its leadership in the region.

South Sudan is still a backwater mired in the power-struggles between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Dr Riek Machar.

Ethiopia, would be a good candidate as well, but its Prime Minister is handling Kenya, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and unresolved internal strife.

Tanzania is, therefore the ideal candidate to mediate due to historical reasons as well as practical and economic reasons─since it also remains a major route for Rwandan and Ugandan goods, especially Ugandan oil.

Whether Magufuli is finally decided upon as the mediator and whether he succeeds to help the two countries to resolve their differences, only time will tell.

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