Saturday, June 19, 2010

Swedish envoy leaves with hope in Tanzania

Sweden`s Ambassador to Tanzania, Staffan Harrstrom, has said he ends his tour of duty soon with “optimism and very fond memories of this fantastic country and its wonderful people”. He made the remarks in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Dar es Salaam recently, expressing “a strong wish that the commitment to the quest for lasting peace and tranquility in Zanzibar through the formation of a government of national unity will be maintained”. He noted that the first thing that often comes to his mind as he reflects on his three-year stay in Tanzania is the search for sustainable peace in the Isles. “I am hugely encouraged by the reconciliation process in Zanzibar, and I am saying this openly because this has been a major concern during my whole period here,” the envoy, who is due take up a similar post in Vietnam on September 1, pointed out. He added: “One message I have for Tanzanians as I leave before the October General Election is that I sincerely congratulate the political leaders on their decision to seek reconciliation and unity. To me, that is part of a political solution for Zanzibar that gives influence to both the winning and the losing side. This is the concept of a government of national unity.” Ambassador Harrstrom said his hope was that all the parties committed to the reconciliation process in the Isles “will continue all the way so that, through that, we see free and fair and therefore peaceful elections because I think peace is key to the future development of Zanzibar”. He meanwhile also called on the Union government to speed up action on a set of six reform commitments aimed at improving various aspects of the nation, including the social and economic development front. “I feel that Tanzania needs to speed up implementation of business climate and other reforms if it is to be able to fight poverty better. And I think the co-operation between the five East Africa states such as opening up borders, opening up for trade - will help stimulate that kind of reform and in turn improve the living standards for ordinary Tanzanians,” he said. Elaborating on some of the other salient developments he has noted while in Tanzania, Harrstrom said: “I have seen within these three years development of domestic accountability, including the revitalisation of the National Assembly (parliament) and its oversight role. I think that is, and will be, one of the most important driving forces of the change needed.”

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