Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The East African nation of Tanzania — long a force of quiet power in the region and a voice of restraint and non-interference in other countries' affairs — is embroiled in a potentially ugly feud with Rwanda and its press after Tanzania's president urged Rwanda's government to negotiate with a Congo-based Rwandan rebel group.
Since those comments last year on the sidelines of an African Union summit Rwanda's government has rebuked President Jakaya Kikwete, suggesting he sympathizes with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR rebel group. Rwanda insists there can be no negotiations with rebels whose members are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that saw more than 500,000 people killed.
Now the Rwandan press also has entered the fray, reporting that the Tanzanian president is holding secret meetings with dissidents opposed to Rwanda's president and even offering them safe haven. One account, vehemently denied by Tanzania's government as "malicious, dangerous" lies, charges that Kikwete has been holding secret meetings with the fugitive leaders of the FDLR rebel group.
This is unfamiliar territory for a country that tends to avoid the kind of virulent conflicts frequently seen in other parts of Africa's Great Lakes region. And despite mediations by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, tensions remain with Rwanda.
In January, after the online newspaper News of Rwanda reported that Kikwete had been meeting with FLDR leaders such as the fugitive Lt. Col. Wilson Irategeka, Tanzania's embassy in Rwanda released a strong statement condemning reports that "create an impression that Tanzania is working with enemies and groups opposed to" Rwanda's government.
"President Kikwete is deeply hurt by these lies and his humble advice to the editors of this publication is to stop fabricating untrue claims which potentially could create and fuel animosity and confusion among the people of our two neighboring and friendly countries," the statement said. "The Embassy of Tanzania in Rwanda does not take lightly these allegations by the News of Rwanda given the position that this publication occupies in Rwanda."
Rwanda lacks a strong independent press, and its newspapers are believed to avoid sensitive issues such as national security unless the reporting supports the view of the government or the military. Despite Tanzania's strong denial, News of Rwanda continues to publish detailed accounts of what it says are Tanzania's close ties with rebels and dissidents opposed to Kagame. The Rwandan government-owned New Times newspaper also has recently reported that some Rwandan fugitives are hiding in Tanzania, where "they are coordinating their activities" against Rwanda's government.
"Much of the Rwandan media is either controlled by the government or toes the government line, especially on political and security issues," said Carina Tertsakian, the Rwanda researcher at Human Rights Watch. "This has been noticeable in the coverage of Rwanda's increasingly tense relations with Tanzania, for example."
Relations may also be stressed after Kikwete offered last year to contribute troops toward a robust brigade of U.N. peacekeepers who helped Congolese troops to oust the M23 rebels from eastern Congo. Rwanda, which denied supporting M23 despite U.N. expert reports citing evidence to the contrary, is widely believed to want a buffer force against attacks from FDLR rebels.
Bashiru Ally, a political science lecturer at Tanzania's University of Dar es Salaam, said the country's leaders historically have avoided conflict with neighbors and that Kikwete's advice to Rwanda's government was likely given "in good faith."
"Our political culture for a long time has been that we need to maintain good neighborliness," he said. "That is the common thread in the country. Tanzania has no history of isolating itself from others." Most Tanzanians, he said, are generally wary of getting into conflict with neighbors.
To NicholaB. Can USA, UK, France, Germany etc. give some of their land that their ancestries left them to neighboring countries because they are small countries? I am originally from Congo. The situation in Congo that the international community created, was not caused by the Congolese, so the international community needs to fix what they created. The so called Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis was just a pretext for the invasion and occupation of Congo by the Anglo-American. Bill Clinton is the mastermind of the invasion of Congo in conivence with his friend Tony Blair. Those 2 men have been advisers to Kagame since 20001; their governments as well as their multinationals are the ones who are creating rebels groups in Congo and arming them. These two men had made multiple trips toRwanda and Kagame has made multiple trips to see Clinton in his office in New-York as well as to see Blair in London. FYI, the person called "Joseph Kabila" who is president in Congo, he is actually a Rwandan agent placed there to exterminate as much Congolese people mostly the population in the Eastern Congo so they can be able to balkanized my country. There is GENOCIDE in Congo that the world does not want to talk about because all those so called rich countries are dependent of Congo natural resources, especially minerals that are used in technology, making of cars, airplanes, shuttles, trains, and any other electronic devises, etc. Over 12 millions people killed, over 4 millions women raped as well as babies etc. For you NicolaB. to post such comment, I just don't get it. Kagame isa criminal and his place is at CPI just like others who committed crimes against humanities, that goes the same for Museveni. Who have the former president of Ivory Cost at CPI as well as Charles Taylor etc. why not Kagame and Musveni? Congo is a land of Congolese who are Bantus People, Ruandan and the rest of them need to do like anywhere in the world where who have to apply for citizenship period. The Rwandan brought instability in my country after my accepted them as refugees without knowing that it was plan by the international community lead by US and UK for the occupation of Congo and balkanization. FYI, before the colons come in Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, part of Uganda, part of Tanzanie that's on the East part of Congo used to be a Congo's lands and the Tutsis are nomadic people from Ethiopia and Erithree. If Ruanda need to have big country, they need to annex themselves to Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, Ruanda and Burundi together and live Congo alone so Congolese can be able to develop their country and westerners need to live Congo alone too, Congo has been supporting them for ages but today they placing my at the bottom of underdeveloped countries in the world despite all it's resources. Today, they are supporting Ukraine so they can be able to destabilize Russia, and they already start their durty work in Venezuela. Without Congo, Ruanda that you praise, nor Ugand, nor Burundi and others will never being talk about. Think also of Southern states of USA and Hawai as well as Alaska!!!!!!!!!!!
A Yahoo! User, 17 hrs ago
Haven't had time to read the entire article, but my view is that Tanzania, as beautiful as it is for its relative peace lo, these past 35 years, should disengage in negoitiations withthe central african nations of Rwanda, Uganda, and the C.A.R.! It should concern itself only with its Great Lakes, and south-eastern\Indian Ocean neigbors. Complicating their political involement in matters to which it had no original involement, and thatthey have been blessedly free of should be of uptmost concern to them. They have both enough on their plate with the industrialization of the region in cooperation with their neighbors; forging an eventual happy circumstance of prosperity!!! P.S: We here in the US need more coffee, so grow more, Tranzania, and prosper!
A Yahoo! User, 9 hrs ago
This is a very distressing turn of events. As the most densely populated country in Africa, Rwanda could sure use more land and Congo has much more than it's capable of governing. Still, I'm not suggesting that Kagame do anything about that (unless it's to negotiate at some future point). I'm hoping that Kagame is forced to deal openly with his government's relationship to M23. He has always been extremely sensitive to how Western countries view Rwanda, so maybe Kikwete's gentle criticism will be enough to make him think.
A Yahoo! User, Sunday, March 9, 2014
Tanzania has long been one of the few shining lights in Africa, cautious, conservative, people of all faiths and backgrounds live in harmony, investors flock to the country where stability and freedom is shared by all, Its a great place, with one of the few reasonable governments, and should be supported not denigrated by outsiders who are supporting killers and rapists. Rwanda only wants the riches of the Congo and mark my word in six month the M23 will be back in the Congo to keep the Rwandan cash flow going.
Jay, Sunday, March 9, 2014
Since the genocide Rwanda has been pampered with western aid and attention. They have used the excuse of FDLR to help destabilize the Congo and since Congo's army is dysfunctional, Rwanda has repeatedly bossed Congo militarily. But I hope Kagame is not foolish enough to get into a military confrontation with Tanzania. Though Tanzanians are seemingly peaceful people and are "wary of war", Tanzania is a different country compared to Congo. In Congo Kagame has Tutsis that aide and sympathizes with his cause. He can use the dysfunctional ethnic confusion in Congo to his advantage. Whereas Tanzania is a very united country with an organized military force. Rwanda should focus on uniting their society and continue in the path of building their economy. A war with Tanzania might have consequences that might reverse the economic and social progress that Rwanda has labored so hard to attain.