John Magufuli absence at Uhuru's inauguration raises eyebrows

Tuesday November 28 2017

President John Magufuli a

Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (not in frame) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Nairobi on October 31, 2016. He missed President Kenyatta's inauguration. PHOTO | MAGDALENE MUKAMI  

By JOHN KAMAU
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Of all Kenyan neighbours, the absence of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli was the most conspicuous.

Tanzania and Kenya have been at loggerheads ever since the country protested, through diplomatic channels, at Tanzania’s alleged hosting of a separate vote tallying centre linked to Nasa.

Whether Mr Magufuli’s personal friendship to Mr Raila Odinga informed his decision not to attend the inauguration of President Kenyatta is not clear – though he sent his Deputy President, Ms Samia Suluhu.

The other members of the East African Community were represented by their heads of state and government.

ILLEGAL GRAZING

Early this month, Mr Magufuli caused a diplomatic stir after his government auctioned 1,000 cows belonging to Maasai pastoralists who had entered Tanzania to look for pasture and also burnt 6,400 chicks imported from Kenya for fear of bird flu.

While Kenya described the action as “hostile”, the Tanzanian President vowed to continue confiscating and auctioning livestock that crossed the border illegally saying:

“Tanzania is not a feeding farm for animals from other countries and that is why we have stated that we are going to take action as per the law.

"We want to tell our neighbours to take measures based on their laws once our animals graze in their countries.”

BORDER DISPUTE
Livestock minister Luhaga Mpina had also ordered the seizure of another 6,600 from Uganda, triggering fears that Tanzania might trigger diplomatic wars.

The country has rekindled memories of the feud between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that led to the closure of the border between 1977 and 1983 following a dispute over the shutting down of East African Airways – jointly owned by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.