President Samia Suluhu Hassan and leading opposition figure Tundu Lissu held brief discussions today in Brussels, Belgium, most probably to prepare the latter back home.
Lissu who is the Vice Chairman of opposition political party Chadema had made prior requests to meet the Head of State who is also the chairman of the ruling party- CCM.
A fierce critic of former Tanzania President John Magufuli and his government, Lissu fled into exile in 2017 after being shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen in the administrative capital Dodoma.
However, Hassan, who took over after Magufuli’s death in March last year, has pursued measures to improve Tanzania’s human rights record including lifting bans on media outlets imposed under his predecessor.
According to a statement issued by the Director of Presidential Communications, Zuhura Yunus on Wednesday, the discussions, albeit brief, focused on pertinent issues.
“During their talks, the two discussed various issues of interest to the welfare of the United Republic of Tanzania,” reads the statement in part.
Lissu, who is vice president of the main opposition Chadema party, was arrested eight times in the year leading up to the shooting attack in 2017 and was charged with incitement, among other alleged offences.
He again went abroad in November 2020 after complaining of death threats and has since been in exile in Belgium.
He spent three years in exile before returning in July 2020 to participate in that year’s presidential elections, losing to Magufuli. Lissu rejected the outcome, alleging widespread vote-rigging.
He later went flew back to Belgium at a time when many opposition figures also fled Tanzania, saying their lives were in danger.
Samia has lately been implementing reforms seen to overhaul some of her predecessor’s decisions, including overturning punitive orders against the media and assuring the opposition of better working relations.