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Uhuru and Raila: Magufuli’s delicate balancing act

A picture of Tanzania’s newly elected President John Pombe Magufuli posing with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga shows that the new leader’s relationship with Kenya will certainly be a delicate balancing act.

The picture, which shows President Magufuli standing between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga accompanied by their wives, is the latest demonstration of the dilemma of balancing between friendship and bilateral relations.

The picture was shared on Twitter by Mr Odinga.

President Magufuli is a close friend of Mr Odinga, the latter a political nemesis of President Kenyatta.

Indeed, the two Kenyan leaders were thought to be supporting opposing candidates in the just-concluded Tanzanian election.

Whereas Mr Odinga openly supported Mr Magufuli, the Kenya government was said to be quietly rooting for opposition candidate Edward Lowasa, something that puts relations between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on a stern test.

At the swearing ceremony Thursday, President Kenyatta sat a row in front of Mr Odinga in the presidential pavilion.

It is also telling that President Kenyatta left it late to congratulate the new Tanzanian leader with whom he will have close working relationship on both the East African Community matters and Kenya-Tanzania bilateral matters.

Mr Odinga, on the other hand, had congratulated Mr Magufuli immediately he was declared winner of the hotly contested election.