GOVERNMENT DENIES EXPELLING EU ENVOY OVER HOMOSEXUALITY

TANZANIA: RIGHTS/TBC/6/11/18 SABANews 1

DAR ES SALAAM – The authorities in TANZANIA say they have not chased the EUROPEAN UNION Ambassador out of the country as reported in the media.

Tanzania AntiRiot Police (Pic. Agencies)

Foreign Affairs and East AFRICAN Cooperation Minister AUGUSTINE MAHIGA says the EU has recalled ROELAND VAN DE GEER after discussions between the TWO sides, but he does not give details.

EU delegation ambassador Roeland Van de Geer (Pic. ESI Africa)

RADIO TANZANIA says his statement comes as a response to news reports this weekend claiming the State had sent the vocal EUROPEAN UNION Envoy packing, for undisclosed reasons.

Minister MAHIGA has broken the silence on the saga in the commercial capital, DAR ES SALAAM, shortly after addressing a meeting of international organisations working in the SADC country.

The news of the sudden departure of Ambassador VAN DE GEER, who also doubled as the EU Representative to the EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY, broke last FRIDAY night after widespread rumours since midweek.

The national broadcaster says the word quickly spread and attracted wide debate on different platforms, with commentators offering divergent views about the manner in which the Envoy left the country.

A Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations, BENARD ACHIULA, has agreed with the Minister saying the recall of Ambassador VAN DE GEER is a normal embassy development.

RADIO TANZANIA says he will be the SECOND high-ranking diplomat to leave in recent years, following the expulsion of UNITED NATIONS Development Program country boss, Ms AWA DABO, in APRIL 2017.

The EU has recalled its official, allegedly, after what it calls the decline of the human rights and rule of law in TANZANIA, where ONE regional official has called for the exposure and arrests of homosexuals.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS quotes an EU statement as saying it will be carrying out a broad review of ties with the JOHN MAGUFULI Administration, but the group does not mention the issues of concern.

However, the development comes amid fears of a looming crackdown against homosexuals after DAR ES SALAAM Commissioner PAUL MAKONDA addressed the media in the city.

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda (Pic. The Citizen)

He has called on citizens to look out for suspected gays and lesbians and report their activities to the police; but the government says his statement is his own opinion, not State policy.

The authorities say they will continue to abide by all global accords on human rights to which it has committed, and it protects all human rights guaranteed in the National Constitution.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS also says an official with the TANZANIA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS COALITION has condemned the call by the DAR ES SALAAM Commissioner.

It quotes ONESMO OLENGURUMWA as saying the call by Mr MAKONDA for a crackdown on gays and lesbians violates the right to privacy and infringes on basic human rights.

Nevertheless, Commissioner MAKONDA has told journalists he aims to end homosexuality and prostitution in the country, and members of the public have already sent names of more than 200 suspected homosexuals to the police.

Homosexuality is a crime in TANZANIA and as well as many other AFRICAN countries, whose people often see the practice as something being imported from the WEST./Sabanews/cam

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