5 August 2013

Tanzania Main Opposition Party Attacks President Kikwete Over FDLR Comments

CHADEMA, the biggest opposition party in Tanzania, has for the first time come out against President Jakaya Kikwete's controversial statement that the Government of Rwanda negotiates with FDLR rebels accused of genocide in Rwanda.

There is no prudence in President Kikwete's statement that Rwanda should have talks with the FDLR militia group which has been in the DR Congo jungles since 1994, says Dr. Wilbroad Slaa, CHADEMA's General Secretary.

President Kikwete raised the issue at an African Union summit in Ethiopia back in May. But since then, he has come under fierce scrutiny from Rwanda - with Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo branding him 'spokesman' of the FDLR.

Ever since the controversial comments and the ensuing backlash, President Kikwete, the Government in general and the opposition have not spoken publicly about the issue. However, on Friday (August 02) President Kikwete spent most of his monthly address trying to mend relations with Kigali.

It has now emerged that the following day Saturday (August 03), the General Secretary for Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) Dr. Wilbroad Slaa, also put his weight behind Rwanda's anger.

"How come President Kikwete cannot negotiate with opposition here at home," Dr Slaa reportedly said at a CHADEMA Youth conference for economic and employment (BAVICHA) in Dar es Salaam.

He added: "... [President Kikwete] has not taken any measure against the murderers of journalist Daudi Mwangosi... He (Kikwete) was advised to take measures against police commander in Iringa Region (Province) Michal Kamuhanda but instead he has promoted him."

In his address, President Kikwete indicated that he preferred a return to normal relations with Kigali - which have gone to the worst in a matter of weeks.

The position of CHADEMA pits President Kikwete's ruling CCM party at loggerheads with the dominant view of most Tanzanians. On blogs and social media, most Tanzanians have express outrage at their leader's "interference" into Rwandan affairs yet Tanzania is facing much bigger challenges.

Some have accused him of using the FDLR issue to divert attention away from his government's internal weaknesses ahead of elections due in two years. President Kikwete is serving the last of his two terms.

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