The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. The absence of four East Africa Heads of State at the countrys 50th independence anniversary celebrations in Dar es Salaam last Friday was sheer coincidence, the government claimed yesterday. It said the absence was not a sign of ill feelings by East African Community leaders against Tanzania. It added that the countrys relations and cooperation with her neighbour remained as strong as ever. The minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, told this paper on a telephone interview that Tanzania commanded a breathtaking respect from her neighbours. He said it was for that reason that the Presidents sent congratulatory messages to President Jakaya Kikwete. Let me tell you (The Citizen), in big events like the one we just had, we do invite countries - not individuals. After all, for instances such as failure to turn up for a country-level event, there are diplomatic mechanisms to work out solutions, Mr Membe said. He said all the Presidents who missed the fete notified President Kikwete in advance.Their absence should not be cause for an uproar. They were occupied by other commitments you know were referring to the Heads of State here. Regarding the sending in of their juniors, Mr Membe said there was no way the country could question whoever was sent by the Head State of another country to represent. Its all about diplomacy, he insisted. Asked whether the absence of Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Kenyas Mwai Kibaki, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Paul Kagame of Rwanda could put a hitch to regional ties, the minister dismissed the fear arguing that the EAC needed Tanzania as much as the latter did towards the former. He also dispelled speculations that Tanzanias initial boycott towards the final signing event of the ministerial committee on two important protocols, one on the Political Integration and the other on Defence Cooperation, could have caused some uneasiness among the other leaders. Regarding the protocols, Tanzania protested the inclusion of clauses on land and security matters included in the two protocols. However, after amendments were made to the documents, the country finally passed the modus operandi on the following day. The amendments had first to be endorsed by the Presidents of the member states. However, speaking with The Citizen yesterday from Kampala, Ugandas minister for Presidency, Ms Kabakumba Matsiko, wondered why there was an alarm on the absence of their president given the fact that the country (Uganda) was represented. But we were represented, werent we? Ms Matsiko wondered adding, If there was whatever reason why the President did not attend, then your ministry of Foreign Affairs must have been informed about it well in advance. There are procedures for this. Officials from other governments, the leaders of which did not attend, could not be reached for comment. With the region now gearing towards the formation of a political federation, the absence of the four Presidents, according to a lecturer at the Kurasini International Relations and Diplomacy College, Mr Abdallah Majura, could be of concern. Mr Majura said it could be that the Presidents did not give the event the due weight given the tendency of the country to lean more towards the Southern Africa Development Corporation block. At the last Friday Golden Jubilee celebrations, out of 14 Presidents who had reportedly been invited, only five turned up. These were mainly from the SADC region, of which Tanzania is also a member. The guest presidents included Namibias Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba, Mr Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, and Prof Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi.