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Tanzania: Exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu says he’ll return home ‘in days’

Firebrand Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu says he will return home “in weeks”, following an apparent rapprochement with the leadership of President Samia Suluhu.

Mr Lissu, who survived an assassination attempt in 2017 in Dodoma, lives in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Speaking on a Tanzanian television channel at the weekend, Mr Lissu said he would return home soon because he was optimistic that President Suluhu would assure him of his safety.

The Chadema vice-chairman, who has spent most of his time in Belgium since 2017, showered praise on the President for taking the nation in the right direction.

“As for now, we are no longer counting years before I return home. We are not counting months. We are not counting weeks,” said Mr Lissu.

In his meeting with Ms Suluhu in Brussels last month, Mr Lissu requested her to publicly assure him of his security, noting that those involved in the assassination attempt were still unknown and no one had been arrested.

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“President Samia promised to work on my issue (security assurance) and I am positive she will do so,” he said. “She has a lot to do on her table. I don’t think she has ignored my request.”

He said the President was a good listener and there was every sign that she is committed to building a country that respects the principles of democracy and justice.

Earlier this month, the government released Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe and his three co-accused, who had been on remand for eight months and facing economic crimes and terrorism-related charges, which critics held were trumped up.

Mr Mbowe’s release followed separate talks by religious leaders and Mr Lissu with the President, urging her to use her influence to end the case against him.

Read: Religious leaders want Mbowe case dropped

Also read: Mbowe free after Tanzania’s DPP drops terror case

In his meeting with President Suluhu, Mr Lissu also raised concerns about his fate and that of other opposition politicians who fled Tanzania to seek asylum abroad in the past few years.

Mr Lissu also commended the President for helping him get a new passport after losing his old one in Germany.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel in Tanzania’s politics, thanks to President Hassan’s U-turn in the way she is handling things,” said Mr Lissu.

But he said that for the president to keep the momentum going, she needs support from opposition political parties.

“She has started well, but she still has a long way to go for her to do better. She needs our support,” said Mr Lissu, noting that a new constitution will be a solution to the challenges related to the lack of good governance.

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