Tanzania ruling party now says it 'insists' on constitutional reform

FILE PHOTO: Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania, speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania’s ruling party said on Wednesday it "insists" on reforming the East African country's constitution after fending off years of sustained pressure by opposition parties and rights groups to do just that.

A previous attempt to make changes to the constitution failed in 2014. At the time, a draft constitution left out changes such as trimming the president's powers, establishment of an independent electoral commission and allowing legal challenges to presidential election results.

Since then, opposition and rights groups have been pushing for the completion of the reforms, and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party said on Wednesday it welcomed change.

"I would like to inform you that Chama Cha Mapinduzi insists on the need of having a new constitution...,” Shaka Hamdu Shaka, the party's ideology and publicity secretary, told reporters. “The party is supporting President Samia’s reconciliation efforts.”

Last July the head of the leading opposition party, CHADEMA, and 10 others were detained while planning a meeting to discuss proposals for a new constitution.

CHADEMA said the arrests of its supporters was proof that President Samia Suluhu Hassan was following in the authoritarian footsteps of her predecessor, John Magufuli, who died in March last year. The government has denied the allegations.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by James Macharia Chege and Nick Macfie)

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