World Bulletin / News Desk
Tanzania's opposition coalition said it would boycott a commission tasked with writing the country's new constitution and said it would hold a series of protests against the draft.
“We have had enough insults in this assembly. The process has so far failed to meet expectations of Tanzanians and we are not ready to be party to that," Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution (UKAWA) leader Ibrahim Lipumba told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
“If they didn’t want to hear any divergent views, why they initiated this whole process?...it's our time to shout to the public outside of Constitutional Assembly? Why they spent billions [of Tanzanian shillings] on this process?" Lipumba asked. "We are going to tell the public.”
On Wednesday, UKAWA members walked out of a Constituent Assembly (CA) session, charging that the draft is promoting segregation instead of enhancing unity and warning that the charter-drafting process could lead to social unrest.
They also voiced concerns that the charter is promoting discrimination on the basis of origin, which could pose a threat to the union of Tanzania, formed through a union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar .
The coalition also announced plans to hold a series of public rallies against the draft, starting in Zanzibar on Saturday.
“It’s time for a public rally. We want a constitution that will serve Tanzanians regardless of their race, a constitution that will provide economic opportunities, and not segregation,” opposition leader Tundu Lisu told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Head of the opposition parliamentary bloc Freeman Mbowe, for his part, said that all those who feel unsatisfied about the process to unite against the draft being debated. “All of us who advocate for a constitution of the people should join hands,” Mbowe told Anadolu Agency.
The CA formed by President Jakaya Kikwete in January is currently debating the second draft of the constitution that had been tabled after the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) travelled all over the country to hold community meetings and collect input from citizens since April 2012.
The assembly requested an extension to the April 26 deadline to give the lawmakers in the panel more time to approve the national budget for the next fiscal year, scheduled to start on May 9.
But aside from the pressing budgetary debate, the assembly was already behind the original schedule to adopt the new constitution, having started deliberation on the articles on March 21, and so far only discussed chapters one and six, which deal with the establishment of the new government structure/
The assembly, comprising 640 representatives - 357 parliamentarians, 82 members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives and 201 delegates representing various segments of society - was sworn on February 18.Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2014, 11:00