After the government removed a prohibition on political demonstrations, opposition leader and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu of Tanzania returned home to a delighted audience on Wednesday.
After being shot 16 times, largely in his lower belly, in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the administrative capital of Dodoma in 2017, Lissu, a former lawmaker and ferocious opponent of the administration, first left the country to seek treatment overseas.
This month, President Samia Suluhu Hassan removed a prohibition on political demonstrations that had been in place for more than six years and had frequently resulted in clashes between opposition leaders and police.
The opposition applauded the action, and Lissu declared he would terminate his exile as a result. Before traveling by automobile to a rally in the country’s commercial hub Dar es Salaam, he was met at the Julius Nyerere International Airport by a sizable crowd of his supporters.
He acknowledged to the cheering crowd that exile had been difficult and promised to work to have a new constitution adopted.
“Without a new constitution it will be difficult to change anything. Without it we won’t have a free and independent electoral commission,” he said.
The current constitution vested too much power in the executive, he said, adding it was imperative to push for reforms.
“If you are tired of all these high taxes, high inflation of food… let us find a political solution, let us find a new constitution,” Lissu said.
In the year before the shooting incident he survived, Lissu—who had been detained eight times—returned to his native country to run against Magufuli in elections.
Although he received death threats soon after the election, he retreated to the home of the German ambassador before leaving the nation once more.
Electioned officials were permitted to hold rallies in their districts under the 2016 ban on rallies, but other political rallies or protests were outlawed.
Following a decade-long struggle with heart illness, Magufuli passed away in March 2021. Hassan implemented various reforms after becoming office, including removing a ban on periodicals considered critical and starting negotiations with opposition figures.
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