NAIROBI, Kenya May 3 – Parliament is on Wednesday set to hold a special joint sitting for an address by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
President Suluhu arrived in the country on Tuesday morning and was scheduled to hold bilateral talks with her host president Uhuru Kenyata at State House, Nairobi.
Speakers of the bicameral House, Justin Muturi of the National Assembly and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka said the special session will be held on Wednesday afternoon in the National Assembly chambers.
Speaker Lusaka notified members that the agenda that had initially been set for the House during the Wednesday sitting including the consideration of the impeachment motion of Wajir Governor Mohammed Mohamud and the debate of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 had been canceled.
“Accordingly, I notify all Senators that the special sittings of the Senate scheduled for Wednesday at 10.00 a.m. and 2.30 p.m., as set out in Gazette Notice No. 4196 of 2021, are cancelled,” he said.
Officials said Parliament will use the meeting to bolster the two nations’ ties after months of strained relations, fuelled by border closures during the COVID-19 lockdown.
President Kenyatta last month dispatched Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to Tanzania to formally invite President Suluhu.
During her visit, President Suluhu will also meet with the business community from both Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya and Tanzania were in January 2021 embroiled in a diplomatic row over the handling of the latter’s COVID-19 pandemic.
The diplomatic spat between the two nations erupted soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in East Africa, when Kenya blocked Tanzanian truck drivers from entering the country, fearing they would spread the disease.
Consequently, Tanzania banned Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways from entering its airspace in what the late Magufuli termed as a reciprocal action after Kenya included his country in a list of countries whose nationals would not be permitted to enter Kenya when commercial flights resumed on 1 August.
Magufuli’s refusal to impose lockdowns or social distancing measures, and to halt the release of figures on infections since late April 2020, made him a regional outlier and caused concern among Tanzania’s neighbours and the World Health Organization.
Magufuli declared Tanzania free of coronavirus in June, thanking God and the prayers of citizens for defeating the disease but this was followed y a high infection rate and it is sad he himself succumbed to the disease.
President Suluhu has since formed a COVID-19 taskforce to advise her government, saying they would canvass global opinion on the pandemic and make recommendations about “remedies” and policies.