Authorities continued to restrict press freedom and civil rights and harass opposition ahead of general elections scheduled for Oct. Authorities 10 Aug banned local media from publishing or broadcasting foreign outlets’ contents without govt permission, prompting criticism from press freedom organisations. Prominent rights organisation Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) 18 Aug suspended its operations, citing incessant intimidation and meddling in its activities by security forces, after police previous day reportedly briefly detained its national coordinator and THRDC’s bank accounts were reportedly frozen mid-Aug after organisation failed to submit to authorities contracts signed with foreign donors. National anti-corruption body 11 Aug questioned main opposition party Chadema chairperson Freeman Mbowe over alleged misuse of party funds. After Chadema 4 Aug nominated vice-chairperson and former MP Tundu Lissu as party’s presidential candidate, unidentified assailants 13 Aug set Chadema’s offices on fire in Arusha city in north ahead of Lissu’s arrival. Chadema and opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) 28 Aug alleged widespread irregularities and “unfair” disqualifications in enrolment of their candidates for parliamentary and local council elections and asked electoral commission to reinstate them.
Next year’s elections in Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago, will be hard fought. With the ruling party changing the rules in its favour, they could turn violent. The islands’ politicians should urgently meet to discuss levelling the playing field and lowering the risk of clashes.
Al-Shabaab remains focused on recapturing power in Somalia, but it continues to plot attacks in Kenya and Tanzania – and perhaps in Uganda as well. To counter the movement, East African states should eschew heavy-handed crackdowns and work instead to reduce its appeal to potential recruits.
The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell joins five Crisis Group analysts to analyse the pandemic's political and economic implications.
Originally published in The East African