After the government decided to suspend its prohibition on political demonstrations, Tanzania’s opposition leader and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu announced he will return home this month after living in exile in Europe to “create a new chapter.”
Following the passing of her predecessor John Magufuli in March 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan removed the six-and-a-half-year prohibition on political gatherings last week as part of her reconciliation policy.
Magufuli implemented the ban in 2016, allowing elected officials to hold rallies in their home districts but prohibiting other political gatherings and protests.
Lissu announced on Twitter on Friday that he would return home and resume work on January 25 when the illegal ban on political activity was lifted.
Lissu said in a speech that was broadcast live on YouTube and on Tanzanian local stations, “we cannot continue to forever live in exile.”
“I’m hopeful that this year will mark the beginning of a new phase… The year 2023 will go down in our nation’s history as significant, he declared. After being wounded 16 times, predominantly in the lower abdomen, in an attack by unidentified assailants in the administrative capital Dodoma in September of that year, Lissu originally departed the country to seek treatment overseas.
In the year prior to the attack, he had been detained eight times. In order to run against Magufuli, who passed away just five months after being elected to his second term, Lissu came back for a brief period of time in 2020.
Lissu received 13% of the vote, although his CHADEMA party rejected ohe results due to claims of widespread irregularities.
After receiving death threats shortly after the election, he retreated to the German ambassador’s house in Tanzania before departing for Belgium.
When Freeman Mbowe, a party colleague of Lissu’s, was detained on terrorism-related charges in July 2021, hopes for reform under Hassan began to fade. After seven months, he was freed, although some detractors called Hassan a “dictator”. Early in 2022, in Brussels, the president and Lissu had a face-to-face meeting.
Early in 2022, the president and Lissu had a face-to-face meeting in Brussels, which renewed optimism that change might be on the horizon.
Since assuming office, Hassan has undone some of Magufuli’s most divisive actions, including easing a ban on four newspapers, and he has pledged to enact reforms that the opposition has long called for.
“President Samia Suluhu Hassan, through her government and party, have shown they are ready for a new journey. We need to demonstrate that we are also ready for that,” Lissu said in the video address. “I am coming home for the new beginning of our nation.”