Government promises stern action on people behind Loliondo chaos

The chief government spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The government vow to take legal actions against individuals or groups of people with self interest in the Ngorongoro saga

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday said it was paying a special attention to tensions at Loliondo in Arusha Region, which are allegedly attributed to a group of people with personal interests in the area.

The government threatened to take legal actions against individuals or groups of people behind the incitement and those spearheading hostility between people from the Maasai community and security officers.

The chief government spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa, through his state address yesterday, said the government will continue maintaining order in the area that would enable residents to continue with normal daily activities without disturbances.

“People who will be implicated with incitement and encouraging residents for aggression in the area will be held accountable and will face justice,” he said.

He said the government did not send security officers or law enforcement officials to evict or hurt residents in the area, they are supposed to plant demarcation beacons in the broad interest of conserving the area.

“There are 4, 000km of land in the Loliondo area. The government has decided to conserve 1, 500km of it leaving the 2,500km for human activities,” said the chief government’s spokesperson.

“However, people have been incited to attack government officers undertaking demarcation in the area,” he added.

But, political parties and rights groups have voiced concerns over the ongoing dispute in the area that has claimed the life of one law enforcement officer, suggesting a temporary suspension of the demarcation exercise.

They also suggest the formation of a special committee that would spearhead amicable agreement for mutual interests of both sides. Arrest those implicated with human rights violations, release information and details of detained people and ensure rule of law is observed.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) said through a statement that it has identified a huge violation of human rights in the ongoing dispute.

The statement signed by the acting executive director, Mr Fulgence Massawe, said the centre recommends temporarily suspension of the exercise as it may intensify the tension and disrupt peace in the area that would lead to fatalities and thus adversely affect tourism.

“In case there is a need for the exercise to continue, we recommend increased transparency, obedience to the laws and preventing all possible incidents of human rights violations,” reads the statement in part. Chadema, which is the main opposition party in the country, says in a statement signed by the party’s director of Protocol, Communications and Foreign Affairs John Mrema supported the exercise temporary suspension proposal considering the ongoing case at the court.

“The government should respect the rule of law, the judiciary and recognise the filed case at the court. They should therefore wait for the conclusion of the case and avoid interfering with the proceedings of the case,” reads another part of the statement. ACT-Wazalendo’s vice chairperson, (Mainland), Ms Dorothy Semu proposed the formation of an independent special inquiry committee to establish what transpired on June 10, 2022 and suggest the way forward.

“Security and law enforcement officers who will be implicated in human rights violations should be held accountable and face legal charges,” she said. “We also recommend engagement of the community in a fair dialogue that will amicably resolve the dispute instead of using force. The government should also suspend demarcation and displacement of residents as it has negative consequences to the country’s peace and security,” she added.

In his suggestion, LHRC’s Massawe said the government should also provide information on detained and missing people as well as taking legal measures against perpetrators of reported killings.

However, Mr Mrema told advised the National Assembly Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson, to refrain from taking sides on the dispute, reminding that Parliament was a citizen’s centred institution.

“Citizens reporting from Loliondo shouldn’t be scared, instead it should use its powers provided by regulations to form a committee that will dig deeper on the matter,” says Mr Mrema.

Briefing the media on Saturday, Arusha Regional Commissioner John Mongella confirmed the killing of a police officer following growing erupted tensions as government officials were demarcating the area in the Loliondo Game Reserves for conservation purposes.

The new development came just a day after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa dismissed reports that there was chaos and involvement of law enforcement officials in disrupting peace and security in the area.