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Tanzania threatens to dissolve opposition-run municipal council over transparency row

Tanzania’s President elect John Pombe Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party’s sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015. REUTERS

Tanzania threatened on Monday to disband an opposition-led municipal council if it continued to defy the government and maintain membership in a global initiative aimed at creating more open government.

The Kigoma Ujiji Municipal Council in northwestern Tanzania run by a relatively small opposition party, ACT-Wazalendo, has vowed to remain in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as a sub-national member despite central government’s withdrawal, Reuters reports.

The government warned the leader of ACT-Wazalendo, Zitto Kabwe, in parliament on Monday that his party would lose the municipal council if it did not immediately withdraw.

“A municipal council cannot refuse to comply with a decision made by the central government,” Tanzania’s Good Governance Minister, George Mkuchika, said in parliament.

Mkuchika warned that if the council continues to communicate with OGP, the government will take stern measures, which may include disbanding the municipal council.

The East African nation joined the OGP in 2011 to promote transparency and accountability in government spending, but withdrew in July. It said it wanted to focus on participation in APRM, a similar peer review system for African governments.

The 75-member Washington-based OGP aims to secure commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, has been accused by rights groups of cracking down on opposition. He denies the claims, saying his government respects democracy.

Magufuli has been praised by some Western countries for curbing corruption and wasteful government spending since taking office in Nov 2015.

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