Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has assured Kenya that there will be no policy shift that will undermine cooperation between the two neighboring countries even after he vacates the office.
Speaking Monday evening during a state banquet hosted in his honor at State House, Nairobi, President Kikwete said stronger ties with Kenya were in the best interest of his nation.
“You can’t have a policy that takes your hand elsewhere unless it is towards your mouth, there is clarity on the Tanzania side on this policy,” he said.
He noted that Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and the largest market for Tanzanian products, adding that it would be absurd for the two countries to have friction.
The Tanzanian leader urged Kenya to ignore the few detractors who are out to cause animosity and misunderstanding between the two countries.
“These people do not have the interest of the two countries at heart. There is no basis for a quarrel between Tanzania and Kenya – none at all,” President Kikwete said.
He said the two countries have a long history of co-operation and friendship which has continued to be fruitful over the years.
We hold common position on many bilateral, regional and global matters. As a result we have been able to forge close working relations and supported one another at regional, continental and the global arena,” he pointed out.
President Kikwete observed that Kenya is major source of investment for Tanzania, adding that trade between the two countries has grown exponentially in the last five years. He assured President Kenyatta that he will use his remaining period in office to fast-track implementation of decisions reached during an earlier bilateral meeting.
President Kenyatta termed President Kikwete’s state visit as one that has solidified cordial relations Kenyans and Tanzanians have enjoyed over the centuries. He said the visit has set the stage for Kenya and Tanzania to push existing cooperation to new levels as they shift gear to more areas of collaboration.
“Our two countries have strengthened their bilateral cooperation in various fields – in trade and investment, in immigration and banking — as we work towards the full integration of the East African Community,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta used the opportunity to commend the Tanzanian leader for his exemplary leadership and bade him farewell as he retires after the next general election.
The President also wished the neighboring country a successful General Election to be held later this month.
“Your leadership in the region, especially as Chairman of the East African Community, is warmly appreciated by the member states. Your tenure saw the Protocol on the Common Market signed and ratified, freeing the movement of capital, goods and services,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta pointed out that President Kikwete’s visit also provides an opportunity for Kenya and Tanzania to reflect on how the two countries could deepen their friendship.
He affirmed Kenya’s commitment to regional integration, saying the move is about collaboration and cooperation for a shared prosperity.
President Kenyatta applauded his Tanzanian counterpart for creating an environment that has encouraged investors from Kenya to do business in the neighboring country.
The banquet was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and senior government officials of Kenya and Tanzania.