EU envoy leaves Tanzania amid queries

Saturday November 3 2018

European Union Ambassador to Tanzania Roeland

European Union Ambassador to Tanzania Roeland van de Geer 

By The Citizen Team @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The European Union Ambassador to Tanzania Roeland van de Geer leaves the country tonight in what was described simply as “being recalled back to Brussels”, The Citizen can report.

Ambassador Roeland “has been recalled to the headquarters in Brussels for consultations at the political level next week on the current events in Tanzania”, the EU’s deputy Head of Mission, Charles Stuart said when reached for comment on Thursday.

Credible sources privy to the matter told The Citizen that the envoy had been given an ultimatum to leave the country by this Saturday over a fallout with the government.

He will depart from the Julius Nyerere International Airport aboard a KLM Royal Dutch flight to Amsterdam at 11.55pm.

When contacted on Thursday night, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, was non-committal on the said recalling of the envoy.

He told The Citizen through the telephone that he would speak about it later.

He said: “I have just arrived from abroad; it’s a controversial issue that I need to first cross-check with colleagues at the ministry. Let’s talk about the matter tomorrow (Friday).”

Efforts to reach Dr Mahiga yesterday for elaboration as promised were futile as calls made to his phone as well as a text message went unanswered by the time of writing this report.

Other multiple sources in the diplomatic community told The Citizen that the EU Ambassador has had rocky relations with the government over reports on matters related to human rights in the international circles painting Tanzania negatively.

“Yes, there have been tensions recently between the two parties over human rights issues coming up a lot in the international media,” one of the diplomatic sources who wished not to be named said.

In the absence of an official explanation from the government, the reason(s) why the Ambassador had to be recalled remained unclear.

Mr Stuart did not also want to discuss what “political level talks on Tanzania situation” meant. Ambassador Roeland will meet with his bosses in Brussels, Belgium, on his scheduled Monday appointment.

Roeland’s fate as EU’s top diplomat in Tanzania is also in limbo as his ‘recalling” may suggest his stay in the country would no longer be tenable.

Mr Innocent Shoo of the Centre for Diplomacy and Foreign Relations told The Citizen yesterday in an interview that “recalling’ is the diplomatic way of describing a situation when a foreign representative is unwanted for breaking the rules of engagement.

Ambassador Roeland would be the second diplomat to leave Tanzania in recent years, following the April 2017 expulsion of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country boss Ms Awa Dabo.

The government then said Ms Dabo was expelled over sour relations with members of staff of the UNDP.