In an attempt to reach out to political opponents calling for the restoration of democratic traditions, Tanzania‘s president on Tuesday overturned a ban on opposition rallies put in place by her strongman predecessor in 2016.
“I am here to declare that the ban on political rallies is now lifted,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who took power after the death of John Magufuli in 2021, told a gathering of political leaders at State House in Dar es Salaam.
“The government will be responsible for ensuring security during rallies, but I urge all politicians to also practise civilised politics,” she added.
Magufuli, who came to office in 2015 as a no-nonsense man of the people but was later accused of stifling dissent, has been under pressure to rescind some of his more extreme initiatives, and Hassan has come under pressure to do the same.
Magufuli, known as “the Bulldozer” for his unyielding personality, outlawed political rallies early in his first term, but detractors claimed that the prohibition solely applied to opposition organisations.
Under his rule, a nation that was previously regarded as an example of democracy in East Africa saw restrictions on free speech and the press as well as the detention of opposition leaders.
Since taking office, Hassan has attempted to reach out to the opposition, but she has already come under fire for being a “dictator,” and concerns continue to exist regarding the situation of press and political freedoms.
A newspaper run by the ruling party was suspended in 2021 as a result of an article it had published that said Hassan will not seek reelection in 2025.
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