Tanzania’s president rejects opposition accusations that she is leading the nation towards dictatorship.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu defended the nation’s democracy on Wednesday, dismissing opposition claims that she is dragging the country towards tyranny.
Suluhu, who was elevated to the president in March after the unexpected death of her predecessor John Magufuli, has also hinted that she would seek the position in the 2025 elections.
Suluhu first reached out to the opposition, promising to preserve democracy and fundamental freedoms and reopening media outlets that had been closed down under Magufuli.
However, the arrest of opposition leaders and the suspension of publications have dampened expectations that she would end her predecessor’s increasingly repressive reign.
“Tanzania (is) extremely excellent in democracy,” said Suluhu, a long-serving member of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and Magufuli’s vice president.
“I realize there are difficulties in our democracy, but this is natural since no country is flawless in terms of democracy,” she remarked at an event commemorating the United Nations’ International Day of Democracy.
The arrest in July of Freeman Mbowe, the head of the major opposition group Chadema, raised fears both at home and abroad that she was attempting to suppress criticism.
Mbowe, along with a number of other top party leaders, were arrested shortly before a public meeting to advocate for a new constitution, in raids that Chadema claims represent Tanzania’s slide towards “dictatorship.”
He remains imprisoned and is awaiting trial on terrorist funding and conspiracy allegations, which he has dismissed as politically motivated.
Another opposition group, the Alliance for Change and Transparency, said on Wednesday that Hassan’s administration had “arrested” democracy.
“We say so because the administration has purposefully stopped certain democratic procedures in the guise of economic development,” it stated in a statement.
“No one has the power to limit freedom of expression, press, association, or vote, but regrettably, the previous government did so, and the present administration is continuing the trend.”
Suluhu, who is presently Africa’s first female head of government and head of state, has also hinted that she would seek for the position again in four years.
“They’re beginning to tease us by reporting in the news that Samia would not run. Who informed them of this? “She said.
“If we do our job properly and work together, we will have a woman in the president in 2025.”
Last month, the government punished a CCM-owned daily for 14 days for printing a “false” article claiming Suluhu will not run for president in the next election.
It was the first time the authorities have banned the paper, Uhuru, and the first such move against any media publication since Hassan assumed power.
The government also suspended a private publication earlier this month for 30 days for connecting a “terrorist” shooter who murdered four people in an August shooting spree in Dar es Salaam to the governing party.