President Magufuli, opposition leader Lowassa hold talks

Tuesday January 9 2018

Magufuli meets Lowassa.

Tanzania's President John Magufuli (right) with opposition leader Edward Lowassa at State House Dar es Salaam on January 9, 2018. PHOTO | PPU 

By The EastAfrican
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Tanzania's President John Magufuli and the main opposition leader Edward Lowassa met for the first time since 2015 polls at State House Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

President Magufuli said the former prime minister, who was also his challenger during the presidential election, had long wanted to meet with him.

He said they talked about Tanzania's development projects with the Chadema party leader praising the government for its work.

"I have commended the president for the good work he has done, we must acknowledge the work done and he needs to be encouraged," Mr Lowassa is quoted saying by a statement from State House.

Among the developments noted in the meeting is the ongoing construction of the electric standard gauge railway (SGR) from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, the 2,100MW Stiegler's Gorge hydroelectricity project and free basic education.

Mr Lowassa said the projects would create employment for many Tanzanians and improve livelihoods.

"For this, I truly thank the president, you made my day," he added.

President Magufuli said the former prime minister was a good politician since he did not insult him during the presidential campaigns in 2015.

"We will continue to honour these elders who made their contributions... and I thank Mr Lowassa for acknowledging that we [government] have done a lot of good things," President Magufuli said.

Leadership style

The meeting comes amid rising criticism of the president's leadership style with critics including the church accusing him of being intolerant to dissenting views.

Nearly a year after taking power, the Magufuli administration banned opposition rallies on grounds that the campaigns were over and the opposition should wait till the next campaigns in 2020, attracting hordes of criticism from the opposition.

Recently there has been an exodus of politicians crossing over from the opposition Chadema to CCM amid allegations of bribery to encourage the defections.

Last week, Chadema chief whip Tundu Lissu, who survived an assassination attempt in September, blamed the government for the attack.

“A government that sends assassins to target politicians for having contrary views should be condemned by the international community,” he said.

Mr Lowassa has himself been arrested several times over claims of holding illegal political meetings and allegedly making seditious remarks.