Exiled Tanzania’s opposition leader sets 6 tough conditions ahead of his return

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Tanzania's main opposition leader, Tundu Lissu; Courtesy Photo

Tanzania’s main opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, has set tough conditions to the ruling government ahead of his anticipated return to his home country, local media reported.

The 52 year-old politician fled the country for Belgium in November 2020, a week after a failed nationwide protest to reject a presidential election that he claims was marred by widespread irregularities. Lissu claimed his life was in danger.

Lissu, who has been in exile twice after the September 2017 incident following an attempt on his life, says he wants assurance of his security from the government of Tanzania, among other 5 demands. The first time he left the country followed an assassinations attempt when he was shot 16 times by unknown gunmen outside his home in the administrative capital, Dodoma.

He later returned to contest in the October 2020 election and lost to the incumbent then, John Pombe Magufuli. Tundu Lissu’s Chadema party got a dismal 13% of the vote. The fallen leader has since been replaced by Samia Suluhu Hassan and Tundu lissu is planning to return.

Among the conditions, local media reported, Lissu want’s Samia’s government to pardon of all political prisoners, and a review of all cases which were slapped against him while he was in Tanzania.

Besides, Lissu now demands that the ruling government hands over his bullet-riddled car, pay his treatment expenses, as well as his gratuity benefits as ex-member of parliament.

Following Magufuli’s death, Lissu indicated that he was ready to leave exile but said his return will depend on the new government’s readiness to account for what he termed as “evils” overseen by the Magufuli government.

In several interviews, Tundu said President Magufuli’s death was an opportunity to reverse trends and ensure accountability in Tanzania. He said he expected Samia Suluhu Hassan to reverse the government’s response to Covid-19, as well as a variety of other policies pursued by Magufuli over the past five years.

A former legislator, Lissu noted that Samia Suluhu’s style of leadership is generally different from that of the late Magufuli, owing to his experience having previously served with her in the National Assembly.

“I know her (Suluhu) enough to suggest that temperamentally she’s a completely different ball game from Magufuli. The rational choice that is available for her is to chart a new course for the country; to extend a hand to those of us who were victimised by Magufuli in an effort to bring the nation together. She will need to do a lot of work in order to repair the damage done by President Magufuli, internally as well as in our relations with other nations,” he stated.

Samia Suluhu has since made impactful changes in Magufuli’s government and reversed the countr’s stance on COVID-19 pandemic which was the headline of Magufuli’s last year in leadership and in life.

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