Many things look good for Tanzania. ‘Terror’ arrest isn’t one of ...

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Many things look good for Tanzania. ‘Terror’ arrest isn’t one of them

For all her moves to reverse Magufuli’s economic legacy, Hassan shows little interest in political freedom

Fumbuka Ng'Wanakilala and Matthew Hill

Tanzania’s new president Samia Hassan won accolades from Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, and fellow billionaire Muhammad Dewji for her business-friendly noises. But her government’s crackdown on opposition leaders this week is raising some concern.

Since she took office on March 19, Hassan – Africa’s only female head of government – has signalled a new business-friendly era, pledging to reverse her predecessor’s policies that antagonised investors and hit foreign investments. Hassan, 61, promised to dismantle barriers put up by former president John Magufuli and resurrect a $30bn natural gas project, prompting Dangote and Dewji to say Tanzania seems to be opening for business again.

On Monday, however, Tanzanian authorities dragged Freeman Mbowe, the leader of the main opposition party, to court over terrorism and economic sabotage charges. That came after he and other party officials were arrested the week before, just hours before they were to hold a meeting on constitutional reform – demanding a reduction in presidential powers and amendments to the electoral process. The arrests cast a shadow over what was turning into a post-Magufuli, good-news story for Tanzania...

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