KIGALI – Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has Monday, March 11, landed in Kigali, Rwanda on a two-day working visit.
At the Kigali International Airport, Mr. Kenyatta was received by foreign affairs minister also government spokesperson Dr. Richard Sezibera, in a move seen as a quest by Rwanda to firm up relations with Nairobi in the wake of escalating tensions with Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr. Kenyatta immediately went to the Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre of Gabiro in Gastibo District where he met his Rwandan counterpart, president Paul Kagame.
Kagame together with a number of senior government officials and leaders in the private sector are in Gabiro since last Friday for the 16th National Leadership Retreat (Umwiherero).
Mr. Kenyatta is expected to hold talks with Mr. Kagame in what is perceived as a quest to have the leader mediate in the security and commercial dispute between Kampala and Kigali.
Mr. Kagame last week also held private talks with Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli and South Africa’s Ramaphosa.
Details of the meeting with both leaders were not disclosed.
Kagame’s dialogues with regional leaders is seen as a quest to firm up relations with Nairobi and Dar el Salaam in the wake of escalating tensions with Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In recent weeks, Kigali has complained that Uganda has been subjecting its citizens to illegal arrests and torture. Kampala had earlier accused Rwanda of transporting goods through the common transport corridor in breach of the provisions of the East African Community Common Market Protocol, and held tens of Rwandan trucks for weeks before releasing them.
Rwanda, a small landlocked country, is served by two major transport corridors — the Central Corridor that runs from Dar el Salaam through Tanzania’s heartland, and the Northern Corridor that runs from Mombasa through Kenya and Uganda.
About 80 per cent of Rwanda’s import cargo is handled through the Dar port, but its major exports — minerals, tea and coffee — go through Uganda to the port of Mombasa.
Oil and capital goods to Rwanda come in mainly through Dar es Salaam. It is this route that President Kagame is seen to be moving to secure, as prospects of undertaking joint infrastructure projects with Kenya and Uganda grow dimmer as relations with Kampala get icier.