DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania has asked Uganda’s president to help it patch up relations with Rwanda after a falling-out over Tanzania’s efforts to bring peace to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania’s prime minister said on Thursday.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said this month ties with Rwanda had soured after he said all nations involved in Congo peace talks, including Rwanda, should talk to rebel groups to end conflict in the troubled Great Lakes region of Africa.
That comment drew fierce criticism from Rwanda, where negotiating with Rwandan FDLR rebels is seen as unacceptable.
In 1994, Hutu soldiers and militiamen killed around 800,000 people in Rwanda, mostly Tutsis. Rwanda is now under a Tutsi-dominated government, and the FDLR rebels are a Hutu force.
“President (Kikwete) has asked the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, to see how this matter can be resolved,” Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said in parliament when asked about how the government was dealing with the Rwandan issue.
Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, now heads the East African Community trade block comprising Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
Pinda said Rwanda had over-reacted to Kikwete’s comments.
Relations between the two countries could be further strained by Tanzania’s role in a new, robustly-mandated peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo.
Tanzania leads a newly-deployed U.N. intervention brigade in Congo’s eastern region of Goma, where M23 rebels, a group of mostly Tutsi fighters widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, have been fighting the Congolese army and other rebel groups.
Rwanda denies backing the insurgency.
Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Roche