Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Kikwete - Disgraceful Albino Killings Now Controlled

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has once again condemned the shameful killing of people with albinism, insisting that the perpetrators were driven by uncalled-for witchcraft beliefs.

According to a statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the Directorate of Information, the President's Office, Mr Kikwete also reiterated the government's commitment to end the killings which, he said, were not aggravated by deliberate violation of human rights but propelled by obsessive witchcraft beliefs.

Talking with the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon in Yokohama, Japan, at the ongoing African international meeting (TICAD-V) which discusses the future of Africa together with the co-hosts, the Japanese government, AUC, the World Bank and UNDP, President Kikwete said there would be no let-up by the government on controlling the situation until all suspects faced justice.

Responding to a question by the UN chief who inquired about measures taken by the government to end the killings of albinos, President Kikwete said, "It is true the country has witnessed an unspeakable wave of albino killings and the government has acted decisively to apprehend the suspects.

The problem is based more on disgraceful witchcraft beliefs than discrimination or violation of human rights," Mr Kikwete said. The president explained that the perpetrators believed that a finger or limb of an albino could bring a fortune to a business such as fishing.

"We (government) will not let such dull beliefs to prevail. Serious control measures taken by the government in the last two to three years brought the situation under control. Some of the suspects have appeared in court and those convicted are facing the death penalty. The measures will be sustained to stop the killings completely," President Kikwete insisted.

In the meantime, President Kikwete had audience with the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ms Helen Clark and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand. Meanwhile, Mr Ban Ki Moon has commended President Kikwete for his recent proposal aimed at restoring peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.

He suggested peaceful negotiations as opposed to a barrel of the gun. The Secretary General also thanked Tanzania for its contribution to peacekeeping for the formation of a Special Brigade under Regional Oversight Mechanism Initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"I really thank you, Mr President, for your unique and inspiring contribution at the regional meeting in Addis Ababa last Sunday morning. Your advice was relevant and timely for peace and prosperity of the Great Lakes region. We look forward to your continued support," Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said to President Kikwete.

He further invited President Kikwete to take part in the forthcoming Oversight Mechanism conference scheduled for September, this year, at the UN headquarters in the USA. President Kikwete said at the Addis meeting that military action alone would not bring lasting peace in the region but negotiations and reconciliation was the best option.

"Peaceful negotiations remain the best option and should be carried out in three phases. Since 1997, we have been striving to restore peace and stability in the Great Lakes region, but things have not changed much ever since. That was my suggestion and I stand for that even if some individuals were not pleased with the proposal," Mr Kikwete said.

The two leaders had the opportunity to discuss in detail the political situation in Madagascar, currently looking forward to running general elections. They also discussed ongoing efforts for the people of Zimbabwe to adopt a new constitution.

President Kikwete discussed the political status of the two countries, being chairman of the Security and Defence Committee of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and was requested by the UN Secretary General to make a close follow-up on the unfolding situation.

The president informed the UN chief about the summit by the SADC heads of state scheduled for Maputo, in Mozambique, next week to deliberate on the current issues in the region.

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