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Tanzanian politician barred from US for gay rights 'violations'

In a statement dated Friday, the US said the sanctions on Paul Christian Makonda, the Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic capital, come amid Washington's growing concerns about basic freedoms in the East African nation.

The rainbow flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Picture: Pixabay.com

NAIROBI - A leading Tanzanian politician who launched a crackdown on homosexuality has been banned from visiting the United States, the US State Department said.

In a statement dated Friday, the US said the sanctions on Paul Christian Makonda, the Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic capital, come amid Washington's growing concerns about basic freedoms in the East African nation.

"These actions against Paul Christian Makonda underscore our concern with human rights violations and abuses in Tanzania," the statement read.

Both Makonda and his wife, Mary Felix Massenge, are now barred from visiting the US.

"The Department of State is publicly designating Paul Christian Makonda... due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons," the statement read.

"He has also been implicated in oppression of the political opposition, crackdowns on freedom of expression and association, and the targeting of marginalised individuals."

In October 2018, Makonda announced a project to hunt down homosexuals.

President John Magufuli later distanced himself from this initiative, explaining that it did not reflect the views of his government.

But it comes amid rising criticism of Magufuli by watchdogs for his human rights record.

"The United States remains deeply concerned over deteriorating respect for human rights and rule of law in Tanzania," the statement read.

"We call on the Tanzanian government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, association, and the right of peaceful assembly," it added.

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