Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thai PM arrives for three-day visit

President Jakaya Kikwete with Thai Prime

President Jakaya Kikwete with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at State House, Dar es Salaam, yesterday. Tanzania and Thailand signed four bilateral agreements, shortly after Ms Yingluck’s arrival. PHOTO | EDWIN MJWAHUZI 

By The Citizen Reporters

Dar es Salaam. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived in Dar es Salaam yesterday for a three-day visit to Tanzania.

Ms Yingluck’s arrival was low-key compared to that of US President Barack Obama, who visited Tanzania under the glare of the world’s media last month. Many Dar es Salaam residents first became aware of the arrival of Ms Yingluck, 46, after seeing the motorcade that carried Thailand’s first female prime minister and her host, President Jakaya Kikwete, drive from Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) to State House.

Ms Yingluck’s plane touched down at JNIA at around 1.10 pm, and she was warmly received by President Kikwete and top government officials. The visitor received a 19-gun salute before inspecting a guard of honour mounted by the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces.

She was also treated to traditional dances by various groups.

Tanzania and Thailand later signed four bilateral agreements at State House. The signing ceremony was witnessed by President Kikwete and Ms Yingluck and attended by senior government officials from the two countries.

The agreements included one on the extradition of convicts. The two countries have also agreed to promote and protect investments.

Others are memorandums of understanding on technical collaboration and cooperation between Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals and Thailand’s Gem Institute.

Ms Yingluck was later yesterday scheduled to attend a forum of businesspeople from Tanzania and Thailand and a trade exhibition. President Kikwete was in the evening scheduled to host a state dinner for his guest.

Ms Yingluck is today expected to visit Serengeti National Park. She is scheduled to leave for Uganda tomorrow.

Ms Yingluck became prime minister of Thailand after the 2011 general election. At 46, she is the youngest Thai prime minister in over 60 years. She belongs to the Pheu Thai Party.

Born in Chiang Mai Province into a wealthy family of Chinese descent, Ms Yingluck earned a bachelor’s degree from Chiang Mai University and a master’s degree from Kentucky State University, both in public administration. She became an executive in the businesses founded by her elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, and later became the president of property developer SC Asset and managing director of Advanced Info Service. Meanwhile, her brother Thaksin became prime minister, but was overthrown in a military coup, and went into self-imposed exile after a court convicted him of abuse of power. In May 2011, the Pheu Thai Party nominated Ms Yingluck as its candidate for Prime Minister in the 2011 general election. She campaigned on a platform of national reconciliation, poverty eradication, and corporate income tax reduction.

Reported by Alex Bitekeye and Katare Mbashiru