17 July 2017

Tanzania: Lowassa - We Are Going to Court Over Ban On Rallies

Photo: The Citizen
Former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa.

Nairobi — Former Prime Minister and leader of Chadema Edward Lowassa says the party plans to seek court intervention if the ban on political party rallies persists, The Citizen has learnt.

The revelation was made on Sunday by Mr Lowassa during an interview with NMG journalists at Nairobi's Serena Hotel.

Mr Lowassa, who was in Kenya for the burial of Interior cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery, said the ban on political activity was the greatest challenge in his time in opposition politics and revealed the opposition might be forced to seek court inter if the ban persisted.

"The ban is undemocratic and unfair, but we are doing our best to remain relevant. We have appealed to the government to reconsider the ban, but they are still dragging their feet. We might be forced to seek court intervention," he pointed out.

The Police Force in Tanzania banned political meetings in 2016, saying rallies called by the opposition were unlawful and likely to breach the peace.

However, President Magufuli, who had said there should be no political activities until 2020, urging people to work, relaxed the ban and allowed only elected officials to conduct meetings in their constituencies.

While opposition parties face arrests for convening meetings, President Magufuli, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and other government and CCM functionaries are busy holding rallies to popularise themselves at the expense of the opposition.

"I received six million votes and I cannot hold a rally to even thank the people for voting for me. This is not only undemocratic, but unfair."

His time in the opposition has been characterised by soul searching after his supporters rejected the outcome of the election and forced him to demand a recount.

"My supporters wanted us to go to the streets to demand our victory, but there were too many guns in the hands of the security forces. I was scared of blood. I didn't want to go to the State House on the back of a bloodbath because I don't deserve that."

He added: "God willing I will try again in 2020 and get there with clean hands." While he admitted life in the opposition was challenging, he, however, said there had been good times and that in some instances he was enjoying being in that side of the political divide.

Mr Lowassa, who previously served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Tanzania, contested as the joint opposition candidate under the Ukawa coalition in the 2015 General Election and lost to President Magufuli of CCM in what is regarded as the most competitive election to ever be held in Tanzania.


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