Tanzania: President warns of rising religious tensions before constitutional referendum

| April 12, 2015

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President Jakaya Kikwete has warned religious leaders against political meddling before the constitutional referendum on April 30. He said it could cause trouble between Muslims and Christians.

The new constitution would replace one approved in 1977. Some Christian clergy are opposed to legislation that would allow Tanzanian courts to recognize verdicts from Islamic magistrates’ courts. They say the legislation, which would allow Muslims to enforce marriage, divorce, inheritance and family laws in their community, would undermine Tanzania’s secular state.

President Kikwete said that secular courts would remain superior to the Islamic courts. He added, “I do not see any reason whatsoever for religious leaders to instruct their worshippers to vote against the proposed constitution.”

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Photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya