Tanzania Reacts to EU Foreign Affairs Committee

Dar es Salaam — Tanzania has acknowledged the approval by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Union Parliament, which recognised some positive developments achieved under a short reign of President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

President Hassan took power in March, this year, following the death of her predecessor, Dr John Magufuli.

Some members of the committee said Tanzania was making remarkable progress

During the meeting, which focused on Tanzania and Ethiopia, Ms Rita Laranjinha, managing director of Africa at European External Action Service, said Tanzania went through a difficult period but things were changing.

"I believe that progress has been made by President Hassan despite existence of many problems. I understand that progress is being made for positive evolution," said Ms Laranjinha who was the guest speaker.

The Director of Communications at the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Emmanuel Buhohela, said the government acknowledged that.

Responding to political challenges, Ms Laranjinha said there have been political dialogue reconvened with partners in Tanzania and already there is a delegation on the ground in constant dialogue, expressing concerns about the situation in the country.

She was responding to a question posed by Dr David McAlister, the committee chairman, who had wanted to know what the EU had done to request the Tanzanian government to unconditionally release opposition leader Freeman Mbowe, who is in custody following unbailable terrorism charges.

According to him, the case against Mr Mbowe is politically motivated.

Dr McAlister said that despite all positive developments, there are still some shortcomings and not everything is perfect in Tanzania.

"I have heard a lot in the country, I am in contact with many brave men and women in Tanzania and there is a situation even with the new President where leaders, members and supporters of the opposition face harassment, illegal detention and intimidation. While some things are normal in Europe, but not in Africa, members supporting opposition go through a lot," he said.

He said with the external service, they share the view that many observers have shared and stated that the case against the leader of the opposition is politically motivated and has no legal foundation to be in the court of law.

"I have read with interest that representatives of America were present at the court trial. There were also representatives of the EU," he stressed.

He said they have met Chadema deputy chairman Tundu Lissu in Brussels who is in the unfortunate position of having to live in Belgium and they cannot meet Mr Mbowe because he is in prison.

"From your point of view, what are the necessary steps that can guarantee fundamental principles that we as EU fight over in the globe for freedom of justice, peace and security? What steps are necessary and what are we doing and especially the substantial support we give to Tanzania which is tax payers money? Is this connected to any conditionality or we continue to do business as usual in Tanzania," he queried.

Contacted, Ambassador Manfredo Fanti, the EU Head of Delegation to Tanzania said the EU is closely following the trial of Mr Mbowe. Diplomatic representatives of the EU Delegation have been attending the hearings at the High Court of Tanzania.

He said that the EU has a continuous dialogue with the Tanzanian authorities at different levels. In that framework human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy are also addressed.

According to him, the latest political dialogue meeting between Tanzanian and the EU took place on October 29, this year in Dar es Salaam and all these topics were on the agenda.

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