Presidents Uhuru, Magufuli call eases tension at border

Thursday, May 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and John Magufuli at a past meeting. Photo/PD/FILE

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s diplomatic efforts  appear to have borne fruit after his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli agreed to ease tensions caused by Kenya’s move to close its borders in a bid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a message posted on his Facebook account yesterday, Magufuli said Uhuru had called him twice in the last two days over the coronavirus matter and the tensions escalating at the border between the two countries. 

“Kuna kimgogoro kule mpakani mwa Kenya, Kenya ni marafiki zetu, corona isiwe chanzo cha migogoro, sisi marais tumeyamaliza. (We have issues at the border, but Kenyans are our friends and coronavirus should not divide us. We presidents have settled the matter,” he wrote. 

Cargo ban

In his address to the nation  last week, Uhuru announced new measures to curb the spread of the diseases which included closure of Kenya’s borders with Tanzania and Somalia, saying many Covid-19 cases were being imported from the two countries.

Tanzanian, however, retaliated by blocking Kenya’s cargo trucks from entering the country. 

Reports also indicated that Uhuru had dispatched Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is a friend of Magufuli’s, to Tanzania to meet the Tanzanian leader on Saturday. 

“There are Masaai people in Kenya and Tanzania. There are Luo-speaking people in Kenya and Luo-speaking people in Tanzania.

Both countries also share Kuria-speaking people, among other ethnic compositions,” said Magufuli while addressing residents of Singida when he made stopover on his way to Dodoma from Chato, Geita region. 

The President’s decision to close Kenya’s borders came after tens of Tanzanian truck drivers heading to Kenya through the Namanga border tested positive for coronavirus.

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