Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has come out to publicly support the bid by neighbouring DR Congo to become a member of the East African Community (EAC).
Magufuli made his country’s position clear on Friday during a joint news conference with his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi, who was in Tanzania for a one-day working visit.
Magufuli said that his visiting counterpart had asked for his support to ensure DR Congo becomes the seventh partner state of the regional bloc, a request he said he had gladly accepted.
“I saw that to be a good way and I assured him that I will be one of his advocates so that his country can be registered as a member of the East African Community,” Magufuli said.
Tshisekedi on June 8 wrote to the EAC Chairman, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, expressing his country’s wish to be a member of the regional bloc comprising Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Subsequently, Kigali on June 11, duly wrote to the EAC Secretary General so that Kinshasa’s request is put on the agenda of the next Summit of EAC Heads of State and Government, which is scheduled for November 30.
At the news conference, Magufuli further noted that the two leaders discussed matters pertaining to the envisaged Standard Gauge Railway that will link the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam to Kigali, a project Rwanda and Tanzania are jointly championing.
Magufuli said: “As regards the under construction railway line, we agreed, and he was happy, that the railway we shall build from Isaka to Rusumo and up to Kigali, continues up to eastern Congo so that all goods will be coming and passing through the port of Dar es Salaam.”
In the past 17 months, Rwanda and Tanzanian ministers in charge of transport have met a dozen times to discuss the implementation of the Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project and reiterated the desire by both countries to hasten it.
From Dar es Salaan, Tshisekedi headed to Burundi capital Bujumbura.