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Wednesday,August 12,2020 03:20 AM

US concerned over Tanzania bid to 'stifle democratic norms'

By AFP

Added 25th June 2020 06:03 PM

Also on Tuesday the government revoked the licence of the opposition-owned Tanzania Daima newspaper.

US concerned over Tanzania bid to 'stifle democratic norms'

President John Magufuli. AFP photo

Also on Tuesday the government revoked the licence of the opposition-owned Tanzania Daima newspaper.

The United States on Thursday accused Tanzania of seeking to "stifle democratic norms" ahead of general elections, after the arrests this week of opposition members and the closure of a newspaper.

Police on Tuesday arrested Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), and eight other party members during an internal meeting, accusing them of holding an "illegal assembly".

They were released the following day on bail.

Also on Tuesday the government revoked the licence of the opposition-owned Tanzania Daima newspaper. 

The Media Council of Tanzania criticised the move, which came ahead of presidential and legislative elections in October, saying it was a "time when citizens need platforms of expression and information to be broadened rather than narrowed."

In statement, the US embassy expressed "concern over recent actions by the government of Tanzania to stifle democratic norms."

"These actions follow a disconcerting pattern of intimidation toward opposition members, civil society, and media outlets," it said.

The opposition fears the elections will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation.

On June 9, the leader of the opposition Chadema party, Freeman Mbowe, who has announced his intention to run against President John Magufuli, was hospitalised with a broken leg after his party said he was beaten in a "politically-motivated" attack.

Chadema said Thursday it had no confidence in ongoing police investigations after the police said they doubted the attack happened as he described and maintained there was no evidence.

On Monday, Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro said if they found the claims untrue, Mbowe would be prosecuted for spreading false information.

Magufuli took office in 2015 as a corruption-fighting "man of the people" but has been criticised for his authoritarian style and the narrowing of freedoms in the country.

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