Relations between Rwanda and Tanzania could be described as cordial and a signal to an end of the sour fallout since 2013.
President Paul Kagame on Saturday invited to Kigali his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to attend the 9th Northern Corridor Integration Projects summit.
Kikwete that has since 2013 occasionally avoided several regional meetings recently assumed the rotational chairmanship of the EAC bloc, a position that requires him to attend such high-level meetings.
He told the four heads of state gathered in Kigali, “I want to extend my thanks to President Paul Kagame for inviting me to this summit.”
Most recently, Kikwete and Kagame had in February met at the 16th Summit of EAC Heads of State in Nairobi, Kenya.
In May 2013, during an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Kikwete suggested that the Rwandan government should open talks with the FDLR Hutu militia based in eastern DR Congo.
Rwanda considers the FDLR grouping a collection of genocidaires that should be prosecuted for their role in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi that claimed over a million lives.
During the same AU summit, Kikwete also urged Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to consider negotiating with Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda, as well as asking DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila to talk to the M23 rebels and other forces operating in eastern Congo.
Kikwete’s call for Rwanda to negotiate with the FDLR attracted a lot of criticism prompting Kagame to respond after a month saying; “I kept quiet about this because of the contempt I have for it. I thought it was utter nonsense.”
Kagame added, “ May be it was due to ignorance but if this is an ideological problem for anyone to be thinking this way, then it better stay with those who have it.”
The Opposition politicians in Tanzania used the parliament to pressure President Kikwete to mend fences with Rwanda.
Kikwete’s government told parliament it was not going to apologise to Kigali over the statements.
However, later in August 2013, the Tanzanian government requested Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to help mediate its bitter row with Rwanda.
In September 2013, for the first time after the bitter fallout, Presidents Kagame and Kikwete met in Uganda’s capital Kampala for a security summit organized by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
During the summit, President Kagame angrily questioned why Kikwete was “Siding” with FDLR.
At that time, the row between Kigali and Dar es Salaam presented a big security risk to the region and was also seen as a threatening efforts to make the East African Community a success.
The Northern Corridor is the transport corridor linking the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi to Kenya’s Maritime Port of Mombasa.
Kikwete proposed for continued integration of the region, requesting for extension of Northern corridor to Central corridor in which Tanzania fully benefits.
Kagame hosted his visitors to lunch including; Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, Burundi’s Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera.