3 October 2012

Tanzania: Political Violence Worries Kikwete

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has cautioned Tanzanians to be wary of politicians who preach violence and therefore pose a threat to the existing peace and tranquility in the country.

In his monthly address to the nation, Mr Kikwete advised the people to ignore statements by wayward politicians that are meant to incite violence. He observed that despite the fact that Tanzania was into the 20th year of multi-party democracy, the statements and actions by some politicians are worrisome.

The president happily noted that many Tanzanians were now conversant with the concept of political pluralism as a way to widen democracy and promote good governance and not meant to foment hatred and violence. Mr Kikwete noted, however, that despite such achievement, there were still some challenges, some of which had been addressed while others were still being dealt with.

He referred to some incidents in which lives were lost, people were injured and maimed and property lost or damaged. "It is common nowadays to see followers of a political party being chased away or even killed or injured during political rallies that turned violent," President Kikwete remarked.

He observed that people have the right to attend rallies organised by political parties of their choice where they would be able to learn about their policies and make informed choices. The president appealed to Tanzanians in general and politicians in particular to exercise sobriety in the course of pursuing their agenda to avoid plunging the nation into chaos. He therefore urged the people to retreat to their political tolerance and civilized conduct qualities.

While urging the police to avoid excessive use of force where not necessary, the president reminded Tanzanians and politicians to respect the laws of the land and view the police force as the lawful custodian of peace and security.

Mr Kikwete noted with satisfaction that Tanzanians had now more freedom of expression than ever before through public rallies, civic societies, media, internet, social media and even mobile phones. President Kikwete stated that such achievement was due to the political will and commitment by CCM to widen democracy and safeguard human rights.

According to the president, in 1992 there was only one political party (CCM) while between then and 1995 there were 13 political parties with permanent registration. Now there are 20 political parties with permanent registration. The number does not include PONA and TPP, which were deregistered in 2002.

He said during the 20 year period, the country conducted four general elections (1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010) and witnessed the highest degree of political maturity, tolerance, sobriety and civilization despite differences in ideologies, perspectives and political opinion. On the Lake Nyasa border dispute, President Kikwete said that the scheduled meeting of the joint commission of the two countries could not be held following a request by Malawi.

The meeting was scheduled to be held between September 10 and 15 but Malawi asked for more time. The president said Tanzania was continuing with preparations in case it decides to forward the matter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

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