Tanzania's President Samia arrives in Kenya in maiden official visit

Tuesday May 04 2021
President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu in Kenya on May 4, 2021. PHOTO | COURTESY | MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS


Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu arrived in Kenya on Tuesday morning for a two-day state visit to Nairobi, her first since she took over the presidency following the death of John Pombe Magufuli in March.

Suluhu arrived wearing a white mask, keeping tradition of donning one when on foreign trips.

She immediately headed to State House Nairobi for a meeting with her host President Uhuru Kenyatta.

This is the first time a Tanzanian President is making a state visit to Kenya since October 2016.

Raychelle Omamo and Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo (left) receives visiting Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, on May 4, 2021. PHOTO | COURTESY | MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The president visited Uganda last month when the two countries inked an oil pipeline deal worth $3.5 billion with oil giants Total and CNOOC.


At State House in Kenya, she will receive a 21-gun salute, a privilege and tradition given to visiting heads of state.

Beyond the pleasantries, her trip comes at a time when both countries are seeking to renew ties and resolve their perennial tiffs on cross-border trade, including non-tarrif barriers.

An immediate concern will be cooperation around Covid-19 management.

Tanzania hasn't released data on new infections since May last year even though President Samia said she was forming a committee to study the key issues around the pandemic.

As neither the identity nor the terms of reference of the Committee was made public, it remains a matter of voluntary prevention measures in Tanzania.

The President herself chooses when to wear masks in public, routinely abandoning it in Tanzania but wearing it when out of the country.

On Monday, Tanzania announced that travellers flying in from countries that have recorded cases of the coronavirus variants will have to take a Covid-19 test on arrival and will be subjected to mandatory quarantine. A health official said these measures would help stem spread of variants in the country.

Last month, the UK imposed travel restrictions on Kenya after London said a significant number of travellers transiting through Nairobi from Tanzania had tested positive for Covid-19. Nairobi responded by issuing similar restrictions on UK, but it is expected that the matter will come up in Nairobi as the two leaders meet.