Crowds gather as Tanzanian opposition holds first rally since ban lifted.
Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of Tanzania’s opposition party Chadema, arrived Friday for a political rally in Mwanza. The leader was greeted by crowds of supporters in a city located north-west of Dar es salaam.
It was the first opposition rally to take place in the country following the lift of a ban by president Samia Suluhu Hassan. Her predecessor, Tanzania’s former head of state John Magufuli had imposed the ban back in 2016. He presided over a crackdown on political freedoms, earning the nickname “Bulldozer”.
Freeman Mbowe who was imprisoned under Hassan on terrorism charges was cautious, she announced the lift in early January. Many opposition figures still await greater political reforms, though.
NGO Amnesty international “urged Tanzanian authorities to go further and work towards greater protection of human rights, which includes removing all obstacles to rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression”.
Tanzania’s first woman has president reached out to rivals, reopened banned media outlets, and reversed some of Magufuli’s most controversial policies.
The rally marked the 30th anniversary of the party’s political registration. Acting chairperson for Chadema’s women’s wing, Sherifa Suleiman, said: “We will organise as many rallies as possible to reach all wards and villages in the country.”
Supporters wore the party colours – blue, red and white – and sang songs praising their leaders while just a handful of police officers looked on.
Speaking to crowds, Freeman Mbowe, Chadema’s chairman added: “Despite thanking the president for lifting the ban, our country needs a new Constitution, a new Constitution is unavoidable. We [the opposition and ruling party] need reconciliation on this, but for that, we need an independent electoral commission.”
Supporters are cautiously welcoming recent developments as a move towards greater democracy in Tanzania. President Hassan has been in power for 22 months and is hoping to break with some of Magufuli’s hardline policies.
Author: Staff Writer