By Louis Kolumbia
Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli of Tanzania has assured President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that Tanzania will remove its peacekeepers from the DRC as soon as permanent peace is achieved in that country.
The peacekeepers are in the DRC under the United Nations Organization’s Stabilization Mission, ‘Monusco.’
President Magufuli gave the assurance at the State House in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, June 13, 2019, during the national ceremony hosted in the honor of Mr Tshisekedi who commenced a two-day state visit in Tanzania.
Speaking during the event, Dr Magufuli said that, despite Tanzania losing 30 of its peacekeepers in DRC, the country will not pull out its soldiers.
“They (our peacekeepers will remain there until full restoration of peace in that country. The citizens of the two countries are neighbors, friends, brothers and sisters,” he said.
According to the Tanzania President, Mr Tshisekedi has already managed to reconcile several rival groups, and freed political prisoners from detention. This, Dr Magufuli, is an important step to restoration of peace in DRC.
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“Tanzania is supporting the peace efforts because not only would the country be assured of peace and stability; peace would also stimulate economic development among the African Great Lakes countries – and the African continent in general,” he said.
According to the Tanzanian head of State, the two countries have historic relations – and that is why Tanzania was quick to respond to the problems which DRC has been facing.
“For instance, we welcomed and assisted many refugees following internecine clashes that erupted in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Also, Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi provided soldiers for peacekeeping missions in 2013 under the UN umbrella,” Dr Magufuli said.
Speaking at the event, President Tshisekedi said his visit to Tanzania is aimed at consulting with President Magufuli on how to reach sustainable peace in DRC. He also commended the Tanzanian peacekeepers who are serving in his beleaguered country under the Monusco programme.
“I have talked with President Magufuli on the Dar es Salaam port and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which is set to reach Rwanda. I raised the possibility of extending the project to the DRC,” he said.
He stressed that economic integration of the African countries, and sustainable development, will be realized through investment and implementation of infrastructure projects, including railways, roads and energy.
President Tshisekedi disclosed that DRC had recently applied for membership of the East African Community (EAC), a move that would free the country from trade barriers, as well as increase economic activities among the member countries.