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Tanzania - Foreign Relations

After achieving independence, Tanzania's leadership emphasized supporting the efforts of other African nations to gain independence. It supported the struggle against the apartheid government of South Africa, championed some form of political union of African states, and promoted a non-aligned stance toward the Cold War antagonists. To these ends, Tanzania played an important role in regional and international organizations.

In Africa, Tanzania favored the creation and preservation of internal political unity and independence from foreign influence. It was positively committed to the liberation of those Africans still under minority governments. By 1970, Tanzania had taken the responsibility for caring for more th an 40,000 refugees from southern Africa and the Congo. A number of liberation movements were headquartered in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania was a strong supporter of the Organization of African Unity and helped establish the East African Community and East African Common Market with Uganda and Kenya.

Tanzania's first president, Julius Nyerere, was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. Additionally, Tanzania played an active role in the anti-apartheid front-line states, the G-77, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). One of Africa's best-known elder statesmen, Nyerere was personally active in many of these organizations, and served as chairman of the OAU (1984-85) and chairman of the six front-line states. Nyerere's death, in October 1999, is solemnly observed each year.

From a very early date, Nyerere made Tanzania Africa's leading frontline statepitted against colonialism and racial discrimination in southern Africa. At no small cost to itself, Tanzania remained firm on the principles of basic humanrights,self-government, and majority rule.

This stand was costly to Tanzania and from 1965 through 1975 resulted in disruptions inrelations with Britain and the United States, primary aid donors, over Tanzanian liberation policy. Most aid programs to Tanzania had been curtailed by 1985 and there was a refusal tonegotiate further assistance until the country began to service its $3 billion debt. The Tanzanian government concluded a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)in 1986. In 1990, the United States provided $40 million in aid to Tanzania while Tanzania made payments to the United States of $79 million.

Tanzania enjoys good relations with its neighbors in the region. Tanzania has long promoted efforts to resolve chronic conflicts, especially in the Great Lakes region. Tanzania helped to broker peace talks to end the conflict in Burundi. In March 1996, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya revived discussion of economic and regional cooperation. These talks culminated with the signing of an East African Cooperation Treaty in September 1999. The East African Community (EAC) customs union came into effect January 1, 2005 and its Common Market Protocol entered into force on July 1, 2010. Rwanda and Burundi joined the EAC as full members in 2007.

Tanzania was the only country in East Africa which also is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Tanzania was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2005-2006. President Kikwete chaired the African Union for a 1-year term in 2009-2010. In March 2008, the Tanzanian military led an African Union-authorized force to restore government authority on one of the islands of the Comoros archipelago. Long a host to substantial refugee populations, in 2009 Tanzania granted citizenship to 162,000 Burundi refugees. Tanzania's participation in UN peacekeeping missions included deployments to Lebanon and Sudan.

Tanzania has been hosting refugees since its independence as a result of the conflicts in the area. In the 1960s, Tanzania opted for an open-door policy for refugees, allowing them socioeconomic rights to the fullest extent possible. For example, from 1994 to 1996 the western part of Tanzania known as the Kagera region, hosted over 700,000 refugees compared with the local population of 1.3 million. The impact of refugees on the local population was considerable as hungry refugees stole crops and cattle and destroyed fields in search of fire wood, creating alarming rates of deforestation.

In November 2013 Tanzania’s minister for East African Cooperation said the government in Dodoma will consider new strategic alliances after expressing concern about the “strange behavior” of some countries in the East African Community (EAC). “We are concerned with the actions by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, which started very suddenly and without consultations. What we thought was a normal state visit by President Kenyatta to Uganda, [but] having reached there, it seems President Kagame was then invited, and they started this so-called ‘coalition of the willing’, which in itself is an insult to Tanzania,” said Samuel Sitta, Tanzania’s East African Cooperation minister.

Press reports said that the “coalition” refered to those EAC countries that wanted to fast-track regional integration. The press reports some Tanzanian officials as reportedly wanting to go at a more deliberative pace.

The People ’s Republic of China has been the largest single provider of assistance. The People’s Republic of China’s grant of an interest free loan exceeding $400 million to build the Tanzanian half of the Tanzanian—Zambian Railroad Authority was the largest single loan by a Communist government, exceeding the $325 million Soviet financed Aswan High Dam project. For more than three years, 15,000 Chinese and 15,000 Tanzanians worked on the Tanzanian portion of the railroad. This provided much needed capital for Tanzania not only through the 15,000 jobs directly related to the railroad , but also from the thousands of other indirectly related jobs.

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Page last modified: 14-02-2018 18:14:31 ZULU