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Tanzania: Two NGOs alarm at retreat of fundamental freedoms


According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, repeated attacks on the media and civil society have been unprecedented since John Magufuli came to power.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli in Pretoria, South Africa, May 25, 2019. MICHELE SPATARI / AFP

Fundamental freedoms have fallen sharply in Tanzania since President John Magufuli came to power in 2015, and his government has cracked down on the media and civil society, Amnesty International and Human Rights denounced on Monday (October 28th). Rights Watch (HRW). According to the two human rights organizations, the repeated assaults of power against freedom of expression are unheard of in this East African country that has long enjoyed an image of stability and tolerance.

The mandate of President Magufuli is entering its fifth year in early November and, for Roland Ebole, a researcher at Amnesty International, "Tanzania is sinking at high speed" . "We have never seen this level of harassment or intimidation, nor the closure of media. It's new in Tanzania, "he adds.

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John Magufuli, who turns 60 on Tuesday, was nominated in 2015 by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), to wear his colors and succeed the head of the country to the moderate Jakaya Kikwete. Despite opposition protests over the fairness of the polls, he was declared the winner of the October 2015 presidential election after introducing himself to the voters as "the man of the people" . He had attacked corruption as soon as he came to power. But soon, his critics denounced his authoritarian style and the proliferation of arbitrary detentions of journalists or opponents.

A journalist missing

In two separate reports released on Monday, HRW and Amnesty International documented how the regime imposes its views through draconian laws. Newspapers have been closed, live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings cut off and jailed critical voices.

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Recently, investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was arrested and questioned about his citizenship, before being threatened with being charged with sedition and eventually prosecuted for economic crimes. Another regime-defender journalist, Azory Gwanda, has been missing since 2017. In May, a virulent critic of President Magufuli, Mdude Nyagali, was abducted by unidentified people and was found seriously injured a few days later, 70 km from his home. home.

This deteriorated climate "does not create the conditions for free and fair elections , " HRW researcher Oryem Nyeko warned, referring to the general elections scheduled for the end of 2020. President Magufuli should be a candidate for his five-year term, according to many Tanzanian observers.

Source: lemonde

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