Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete is reported to be at ideological odds with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Alliance regime barely months after showing disinterest in the affairs of the East Africa Community which nearly paralysed the regional comity of nations.
The bone of contention this time around has been a feeling in Dar es Salaam that the Kenyan leader botched up the South Sudan peace process, leading to an escalation of the South Sudan conflict under his watch as East Africa and Igad Chair.
Kikwete, who is set to leave the presidency next year after serving for two terms is concerned that the East Africa region, without Tanzania, is increasingly under regimes whose leaders cannot secure the stability of the whole region, leave alone its member states.
It is this realization which has seen Tanzania more keen to forge alliances with Southern African countries under Southern Africa Development Community rather than East Africa Community. Tanzania is also setting its own diplomatic mechanisms to bring peace to the region outside both EAC and Igad.
Last week, Kikwete invited the warring South Sudan leaders to Arusha in what officials in Nairobi are silently grumbling about but unwilling to go public with as a ‘snub’ on President Uhuru, the current Chair of both Igad and EAC.
Kikwete, sources reveal, is not just negotiating a peaceful settlement of the Sudan Crisis; he is also reported to have succeeded in setting the initial stages for talks aimed at a possible reunification of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, SPLM.
More pointers that Nairobi’s involvement in the Sudan Peace negotiations is ‘unwelcome’ also came in the same week when rebel chief negotiatorÂ Taban Deng Gai flew to Khartoum to brief President Omar Al Bashir on the progress of the talks. Kenya hurriedly called in its two peace negotiations with President Uhuru personally flying out to Juba to meet, and, reassure, the embattled Salva Kiir.
After meeting with the Sudanese leaders, President Kikwete dispatched his Deputy Minister of Communications, Science and Technology January Makamba to Nairobi. Surprisingly, the special envoy was sent to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, rather than to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Already, Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania is said to have protested the move, reminding Tanzania that Kenya has ‘elected leadership with one centre of power’.
Mr Makamba met Mr Odinga in his private residence in Nairobi, heightening speculation on the nature of his visit. Mr. Odinga only receives very special guests in his home and on matters which require utmost secrecy – very grave matters indeed.
Mr Mukamba is senior CCM politician and front-runner to succeed Mr. Kikwete in next years elections. The wealthy entrepreneur, like Mr Odinga, has severally been on the World Economic Forum.
With political tensions rising in the East Africa community, President Kenyatta will increasingly get isolated in the larger scheme of things as the Jubilee Alliance, peerless in the region, stick to Rwanda and Burundi, states which are nonentities in this hemisphere. Remember, Uganda is itself facing an acid test which our reporters are already compiling a juicy story on.
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