East Africa

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Tanzania

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(Reuters) – Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has said his government will not tolerate any attempts by extremists to stoke religious tension following a spate of violent attacks on clerics.

The government has said rising religious tensions pose the biggest threat to peace in East Africa’s No. 2 economy, which has enjoyed relative political stability since independence from Britain in 1961.



Two Christian leaders were violently killed in the predominantly Muslim islands of Zanzibar over the past month in separate attacks. The government has launched an investigation into the incidents and has vowed to prosecute those involved in the violence.

A separatist Islamic group in Zanzibar, Uamsho (Awakening), is pushing for the semi-autonomous island to exit from its 1964 union with mainland Tanzania, which is ruled as a secular country. Supporters of the group have engaged in running street battles with the police in the past, but authorities have not linked the group with the attacks on Christian clerics.

Rioters have also torched several churches in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, in recent months, and Kikwete warned about the rising religious tension in a televised state of the nation address at the end of February.

What to watch out for:

– Will a widespread flare-up of religious tensions occur?


Tanzania wants to become a regional energy hub following major discoveries of natural gas offshore. But residents of a gas-rich region are threatening to block a major gas pipeline project until they see a bigger share of the benefits. The government has accused opposition leaders of inciting residents of the southern region of Mtwara to reject the pipeline.

The country’s cash-strapped power utility, TANESCO, hopes the 532 km (330 mile) pipeline being constructed with a $1.2 billion Chinese loan will boost generation of cheap electricity and fix the country’s chronic energy shortages.

What to watch Out for:

– Further demonstrations against the pipeline?

– Will the unrest derail gas investments?


Opposition politicians and activists have been calling for a halt to the issuance of new oil and gas exploration licences until Tanzania revamps laws regulating its fast-growing energy sector. The government has unveiled a draft national gas policy and plans to have new legislation in place this year.

Tanzania has called for an international mediator to resolve a long-standing territorial dispute over Lake Malawi. Tanzania claims the shared border runs down the centre of the lake, while Malawi says the border lies at the shores of the lake.

Tanzanian officials say any significant oil or gas finds in the lake could escalate the border issue.

What to watch out for:

– Will there be a delay in issuing more exploration blocks?

– What will happen if the border dispute talks fail?


Tanzania’s governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has been split by a race to succeed Kikwete, who must step down in 2015 at the end of his second term in office.

The CCM party, in power for over 50 years, is grappling with infighting as rival politicians look to succeed the president, but the squabbles are not along religious or tribal lines. However, several senior ruling party members are jostling for the job, causing a rift in the party.

What to watch out for:

– Will divisions in the party weaken the government? (Editing by Catherine Evans)

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