Tanzania: “it is not good to ignore” the Covid, says the president

The new president of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Tuesday that it was “not good” to ignore the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting a change in attitude compared to her predecessor who had downplayed its severity.

The president added that she would create a committee of experts to advise the government, tasked with synthesizing global knowledge about the virus and making recommendations.

“It is not good to ignore it (the Covid-19). We cannot reject it or accept it without the conclusions of” scientific research, “she said at an inauguration ceremony new members of government in Dar es Salaam, the economic capital.

The experts “will tell us more about the pandemic and advise us on what the (rest of the) world has to offer. We cannot accept everything with our eyes closed, but neither can we isolate ourselves as if we were an island while let the world move in a whole different direction. “

Ms Hassan became Tanzania’s first president in March following the sudden death of President John Magufuli at the age of 61.

President since 2015, Mr. Magufuli officially died on March 18 of heart problems, according to the Tanzanian authorities. But his main opponent says the leader, who has consistently downplayed the impact of the coronavirus and refused to take action to stem the pandemic, died of Covid-19.

In addition, the president, 61, ordered the reopening of media banned by her predecessor, whose administration has been regularly criticized for limiting fundamental freedoms.

Refusing the idea that the government of Tanzania could be criticized for “suppressing freedom of the press”, the president added: “Our laws should be clear on crimes and their punishment. We should not use force. to shut down media “.

The president did not mention any media in particular but the measure could concern the newspaper Daima, banned from publication in 2020 or the television channels Wasafi TV and Kwanza TV.

Tanzania, long seen as a haven of stability in a troubled region, has seen its image tarnished as President Magufuli has developed an authoritarian and lonely style of governance.

Mr. Magufuli was handily re-elected in October for a second term, following a vote that the opposition described as a farce and that most foreign media were not allowed to cover.

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