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EU to review support to Tanzania over rights concerns

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli arrive at State House in Dar es Salaam on January 23, 2017/AFP

NairobiKenya, Nov 16 – The European Union is reviewing its financial support to Tanzania in response to recent moves undermining “human rights and the rule of law”.

“The EU and its member states are concerned about recent political developments in Tanzania,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement Thursday.

She cited “a shrinking of public space in Tanzania through the tightening of restrictions on the activities of civil society organisations, the media and many political parties.”

The final straw appears to have been the recent declaration of a crackdown on the gay community by the commissioner for the economic capital Dar es Salaam, after which the EU recalled its ambassador.

“The EU is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation for LGBTI persons,” Mogherini said.

As a result the EU, which is Tanzania’s biggest development partner pouring in over $100 million (88 million euros) every year, said it will “conduct a comprehensive review of its policies”.

International pressure is building on President John Magufuli who has cracked down on political opponents, the independent press and foreign investors since taking office three years ago.

News of the EU review comes as the World Bank decided against approving a $300m education loan for girls’ education in response to a policy of expelling pregnant girls and not allowing them to resume their studies after giving birth.

“The World Bank supports policies that encourage girls’ education and make it possible for young women to stay in school until they reach their full potential,” the bank said Thursday.

Also this week Denmark said it was withdrawing $10m in aid to Tanzania over what development minister Ulla Tornaes said were “unacceptable homophobic statements”

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