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Tanzania: Opposition resumes street protests calling for constitutional reforms

The party's deputy chairman, Tundu Lissu, front, and supporters of Tanzania's main opposition party, CHADEMA, protest in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.   -  
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In a significant development, hundreds of supporters of Tanzania's main opposition party, Chadema, took to the streets of Dar es Salaam, marking the first significant demonstration in the country in seven years.

This event comes as a notable shift since the political rally ban imposed by the late President John Magufuli in 2015. The current President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, lifted the ban last year as part of her reconciliation efforts after assuming office in 2021.

Chadema's demonstration signals a demand for constitutional and electoral reforms ahead of the upcoming elections in 2024. The party advocates for amending the constitution to enable the challenge of presidential election results in court. Additionally, they seek changes to electoral laws to prevent the president from appointing members of the electoral commission.

Addressing broader concerns, the opposition party also called on the government to tackle the high cost of living in Tanzania. The demonstrators, waving placards and blowing whistles, marched peacefully through the streets of Dar es Salaam under heavy police protection.

During Magufuli's presidency, opposition gatherings faced violent disruptions by the police, and their leaders were often arrested. Notably, top Chadema figures, Mbowe and deputy Tundu Lissu, were subjected to attacks by unknown assailants, with both asserting that the assaults were politically motivated. The resumption of opposition protests marks a renewed push for political openness and reform in Tanzania, echoing the changing political landscape under President Samia Suluhu Hassan's leadership.

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