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Tanzania has initiated talks with neighbouring
Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
with a view to establishing economic and trade
relations following reports of the emergence of a
‘coalition of the willing’ nations within the East
African Community (EAC).
The country’s minister for EAC Affairs, Mr Samuel
Sitta, said Wednesday in Dar es Salaam that
Tanzania had thinking hard after Kenya, Uganda and
Rwanda left out the other two members from their
infrastructure talks.
Mr Sitta said economically, it was sensible to work
with DRC now because the country held immense
economic potential in the region.
The minister said plans were in the offing to
construct a railway line linking Tanzania to DRC.
“Our problem now is that a road linking us to Goma
in DRC goes through Rwanda. But we will construct
the rail to Msongati from Uvinza,” he said.
He added Burundi would benefit in cutting down
costs since it made more economic sense for the
country to import through the Dar es Salaam port
than Kenya’s Mombasa port, noting that a
Bujumbura businessman who opts for Mombasa
travels 900km more, compared o the one who uses
Dar port.
Give him space
For some months now, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda
have opted to forge ahead with integration agenda in
the absence of Tanzania and Burundi.
The three partners have also debated a protocol to
speed up the formation of a political federation.
However, Mr Sitta appeared to be cautious when
reacting to the questions from Members of
Parliament, arguing that time was not yet ripe for the
country to take bold steps in reaction to what other
three EAC members were doing.
“It pains if our partners are acting behind our back.
But on this issue, I would like to advice you that we
should heed a counsel by former President Ali Hassan
Mwinyi, who said that a best way of dealing with a
liar is to give him space,” he said.
Mr Sitta noted that as part of precaution, the
government was now very cautious on its
engagements in EAC activities.
“For instance, there is a meeting going on now in
Nairobi and the higher authority in the country has
directed the minister for Foreign Affairs not to
attend. Tomorrow there is another meeting in
Burundi whose agendas are similar to what the three
countries are advocating and I have directed the
deputy minister (who is in Bujumbura for another
engagement) not to attend,” he said.

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