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Dodoma — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete will not apologise for the advice he made to Rwandan Government to enter into talks with rebels to end 16 years of war because the country has failed to settle the matter through combat.

President Kikwete of Tanzania

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe told the National Assembly that the remarks made by President Kikwete during the 21st African Union Summit on May 26th, this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were in good faith.

“Rwanda have issued a statement opposing the advice by President Kikwete that this was the right time to hold peace talks with the country rebels most of whom are in DRC forests and whom the government has unsuccessfully fought for nearly 17 years,” he said.

The Ministers said Tanzania saw the presence of such rebels in the DRC forests as a setback in the region’s peace process. Mr Membe who was speaking shortly before the House approved his ministry’s 2013/14 budget estimates added:

“President Kikwete will not apologise because his statement was based on facts. We ask Rwanda to take this advice. Our President cannot apologise for the truth.” He reminded Rwanda to remember the fact that peace was to be made with enemies and that negotiations should be made with enemies and not friends.

“We (Tanzania) and Rwanda are friends, we have nothing to negotiate, but they should know that principally we ought to make peace with enemies and negotiate with our enemies and not friends,” he said.

He added that there have been talks with terrorist organisations where they existed including in South Africa where ANC was regarded as terrorist group.

“We say that President Kagame should admit that the time is now and this is not a new phenomenon because in all the areas where liberation movements are, talks have been made.

What we are saying is that President Kagame and Rwandan government should know that it is time for talks with opposition,” he insisted. Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo was on Monday quoted in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI), saying that Rwanda would not consider negotiating with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL).

Mushikiwabo’s remarks came days after President Kikwete made peace talk remarks asking Rwanda and Uganda to consider talks with the FDLR rebels. The Rwandan Chairperson of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, MP Gideon Kayinamura also stated that the idea of suggesting negotiations with the FDLR militias is a big insult to Rwandans.

Rwandans living in the US have also petitioned the US President Baraka Obama give a blind ear to such remarks and continue with its support to Rwanda and the region in bringing the FDLR criminals to justice.

The US government has already reinstated a five million US dollar bounty on the FDLR rebel leaders, like Sylvestre Mudacumura and labelled the group as a terrorist movement in the region.

Meanwhile, Mr Membe told the National Assembly that the government would consider taking to DRC eight journalists to cover the country’s peacekeeping forces in the Eastern side of the country.

“Our forces in DRC are doing a wonderful job and they have been received with jubilation and we hope they will keep the spirit alive by demonstrating our values and hospitality,” he said.

Mr Membe, however, noted that there is propaganda aimed at mudslinging the country forces and thus plans were underway to send eight reporters under army guidance to report the country’s forces activities.

We will soon send eight reporters to DRC where they will document activities by our forces which are already there for peace restoration in the Eastern part of the country,” he said. A total of 1,283 soldiers are due to be sent to Congo from Tanzania to form the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) made up of 3069 soldiers in total.

Tanzania Daily News