President John Pombe Magufuli today crossed the Rusumo International Bridge over the Kagera River into Rwanda for his maiden foreign visit since being elected last year.
Together with Rwanda president Paul Kagame, they launched the Rusumo International Bridge and One Stop Border Post (OSBP), which are key facilities developed under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC).
The president is in Rwanda for talks and to also take part in Genocide Memorial ceremonies. The Rwanda genocide started today 22 years ago and close to a million people were killed.
— Louise Mushikiwabo (@LMushikiwabo) April 6, 2016
The trip to Rwanda is significant in that it comes at a time of a thaw in relations between the two countries, reported Dar newspaper The Citizen. There has previously been suspicion between the two.
“This bridge is creating history,” Magufuli told his host after they met at the Rusumo border crossing over the River Kagera that separates the two countries. He travelled to the border and into Rwanda by road.
“I thank President Kagame for the invite. Rwanda marks the first country I visit since I became President,” he said.
“I am visiting Rwanda in recognition of our excellent relationship and brotherhood. For the two days I will be in Rwanda, I will learn a lot and I want to assure you that Tanzanians are your brothers.”
Kagame – Peace the foundation
Kagame emphasized the importance of the trip, saying “Peace is the foundation of the kind of cooperation that has potential to transform our two nations.” said Kagame.
“We want the number of people who cross this border to increase. We want trade to increase because that will be to the benefit of both the people of Rwanda and the people of Tanzania”
The two presidents were accompanied by First Ladies; Janeth Magufuli and Jeannette Kagame. Kagame later hosted Magufuli at his home, and gave him a gift of five cows.
Magufuli will attend Genocide memorial ceremonies Thursday and lay a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in memory of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
The two countries are major trading partners. According to reports from Kigali, Dar es Salaam Port handles 60 per cent of the central African country’s exports and imports, making it a key port in terms of handling Rwandan cargo.
President Kagame has previously expressed admiration for Magufuli’s stance on corruption and curbing government expenditure.
This is his tentative schedule:
April 6, 2016: Magufuli and host President Paul Kagame will open the service center of the Rusumo border (One Stop Border Post).
April 7, 2016: President Magufuli will join the people of Rwanda in the 22 anniversary of the genocide in the country. They will join Rwandans in “Walk to Remember” before attending a vigil at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, Rwanda.
PHOTOS : flickr/photos/paulkagame