Tanzania Opposition Party Chadema Holds First Rally in Six Years

Tanzania Holds First Opposition Rally in Six Years (News Central TV)

Only three weeks after President Samia Suluhu Hassan removed a ban on political gatherings enacted in 2016, Tanzania‘s biggest opposition party, Chadema, conducted its first public demonstration in more than six years on Saturday in the northwest city of Mwanza.

Hundreds of party supporters wearing the red, blue, and white Chadema colours gave party leaders a joyous welcome in the city. Along with poetry readings and contortionists, the Furahisha stadium, where the event was held, was filled with supporters.

John Magufuli, Hassan’s predecessor, forbade elected officials from holding rallies outside of their districts in June 2016. Rallies, according to the former president, were a waste of time and a distraction from progress because the election season was finished.

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As the police rejected pleas from the opposition to hold demonstrations, this quickly transformed into a general prohibition on political meetings. Even internal party meetings have occasionally been disturbed, with leaders and their supporters being harassed and detained.

But Magufuli himself continued to hold rallies and travel the length of the nation on foot with his entourage, stopping frequently on the spur of the moment to speak to villagers and take unplanned actions.

Critics contend that his actions were a part of a strategy to stifle opposition in the nation of East Africa. Hassan was elected president in 2021 following Magufuli’s unexpected death while in office.

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She attempted to mend fences with the opposition, but was also accused of carrying on some of her predecessor’s harsh tactics, such as the seven-month arrest of the Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe on “terrorist financing” accusations.

Mbowe was in a conciliatory mood on Saturday when he spoke to the party’s applauding supporters, imploring those present to abstain from hatred toward members of the ruling party and their leaders while lavishing admiration on President Hassan.

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