Relief as Tanzania lifts ban on political rallies


Tanzania President, Samia Suluhu Hassan. Image by stock file

from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Tanzania Bureau
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – THE lifting of a ban on political rallies in Tanzania is a victory for human rights in the East African country.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s announcement also represents another significant shift by her administration since she took over from John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, now deceased, in 2021.

Roland Ebole, Amnesty International researcher for Tanzania and Uganda, said though the ban should never have been made in the first place, the organisation applauded the Tanzanian government’s decision to lift the blanket ban on the rallies.

The ban has in the past been used to arbitrarily arrest and detain prominent opposition politicians who organised such rallies.

“It is a welcome step in the right direction,” Ebole said of the lifting of the ban.

The activist urged Tanzanian authorities to go further and work towards greater protection of human rights, including by repealing or amending the Political Parties Act to remove all obstacles to rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

Ebole said states have an obligation to protect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including spontaneous assemblies.

“Participating in, and organizing, assemblies is a right, not a privilege, and does not require state authorization,” the official said.

Magufuli announced a blanket ban on political parties organizing political activities and rallies in 2016, a year after coming to power.

The ban was intended to end when electioneering period started in 2020, but it was carried on after the elections and continued to be implemented by the new administration of Hassan.

She became president after the death of Magufuli in 2021.

Her government enacted policies to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania – in contrast to denialism under Magufuli – and made efforts towards political reconciliation with opposition parties.

A ban on pregnant girls attending school has also been lifted.

Tanzania’s next generals elections are scheduled for 2025.

– CAJ News

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