I’ll return to Tanzania 'in months', says Tundu Lissu

Chadema leader Tundu Lisu

Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu. He is set to return home “in months”, saying he is satisfied with the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Firebrand Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu is set to return home “in months”, saying he is satisfied with the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

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 President Hassan would assure him of his safety.

The Chadema vice-chairman, who has spent most of his time in Belgium since 2017, showered praise on President Hassan 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 President Hassan in Brussels last month, Mr Lissu said he had 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, he questioned how he would be sure of his security.

“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.

Mr Lissu and religious leaders had requested President Hassan to use her influence to drop the terrorism and economic sabotage case that Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe and his three co-accused were facing.

In his meeting with President Hassan, 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.

In what Mr Lissu attributed to pressure from political and religious leaders, other countries and the public, Mr Mbowe and his three co-accused were earlier this month released after spending eight months in remand.

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

“There is light at the end of 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.