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Tanzania’s President Revokes Six-Year Ban on Political Rallies

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File picture: REUTERS/Stringer – Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan takes oath of office following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania March 19, 2021.

By Muhammad Osman

The ban was initially imposed in 2016 during the first term of former Tanzanian President John Magufuli. Critics claimed that the ban did not apply to all political parties, but only targeted the opposition, allowing the ruling party to rally freely while rival gatherings were violently broken up by security forces.

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday ended a ban on political rallies in the country. The move came more than six years after her predecessor, President John Magufuli, first introduced the widely criticized measure in 2016.

Hassan admitted that holding rallies “is the right of political parties”, noting that under Tanzania’s laws, organizing such events must be agreed with the country’s security forces. The president assured political leaders invited to the State House in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that security organizations “will definitely allow you to conduct your rallies” unless “there is any threat”.

“I am here to declare that the ban on political rallies is now lifted,” Hassan said. “The government will be responsible for ensuring security during rallies, but I urge all politicians to also practice civilized politics.”

The 62-year-old president, who came to power as Tanzania’s first female president following the death of former head of state Magufuli in March 2021, said that the ending of the ban was part of her strategy dubbed “4Rs”, which stands for “Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms and Rebuilding the nation”.

Initially meant to apply to all political parties, critics claimed it targeted only the opposition, while supporters of the ruling social-democrat Chama Cha Mapinduzi party were allowed to gather.

However, although the measure prohibited all kinds of political rallies or protests, the ban excluded elected politicians holding rallies within their constituencies.

Since Hassan took office in 2021, she revoked some of the most controversial policies imposed by her predecessor and fellow Chama Cha Mapinduzi party member, Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”.

Hassan, who is constitutionally serving the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, ended a ban on pregnant girls and teenage mothers attending school. In addition, she lifted a ban imposed by the former president on four opposition newspapers and introduced a COVID-19 vaccination campaign that Magufuli rejected.

This article was first published in Sputnik.