Tanzania is studying allegations that some Turkish organisations operating in the country are linked to terrorist groups and has requested the government in Istanbul to furnish it with details so that the two countries can collaborate in establishing the truth before taking appropriate measures.
After the military coup attempt on July 15, the Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Yasemin Eralp, raised serious allegations associating some Turkish organizations operating in Tanzania with terrorist activities.
The envoy said that some rebels behind the coup belonged to an organisation, which operates in many countries, including Tanzania.
Foreign Affairs and East African CooperationMinister Ambassador Augustine Mahiga told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that his government has seriously taken concerns raised by the Turkish Embassy.
“The Turkish Embassy has informed our government about companies and institutions operating in Tanzania being associated with terrorist groups ... we are making serious follow-up to find out the truth,” Dr Mahiga said.
He said after the attempted coup, the Turkish government raised serious allegations accusing not only its military force but also its political opponents. According to Dr Mahiga, the allegations raised included other institutions such as the police, media, universities, and workers.
He explained that the Turkish government has arrested several people, accusing them not only with intent to overthrow the government but also preaching the terrorist ideology.
“We have a sizeable Turkish community conducting businesses in Tanzania. Business between the two countries has grown. Turkey has been accusing some of the companies conducting business here of financing opposition groups in its country.”
According to him, the government normally conducts thorough scrutiny of foreign companies or institutions before issuing them with permits to operate in the country.
“ We request the Turkish government through its embassy in Tanzania to provide us with details, which will help in evaluating the activities conducted by these groups in the country... the government needs sufficient evidence to prove whether the schools mentioned and other institutions are engaging in terrorist activities,” Dr Mahiga insisted. The minister further said that the government of Tanzania was making close monitoring of its people in Turkey through its embassy in Rome.
The government has directed Tanzanian officials in Rome to visit Turkey, particularly Istanbul and Ankara, to get more details about Tanzanian students studying in the cities following the closure of some colleges. “What is happening in Turkey needs close follow-up.
Therefore, we have directed our officials in Rome to do the work as the government is working to establish an embassy in Turkey,” he said. Dr Mahiga noted that he is expecting to meet with the Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania next week to get more details about the colleges which have been closed and how the government can help Tanzanians in Turkey.
Last month, international media reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused a US-based Turkish Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government.
Mr Gulen has been living in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania in the US since 1999. President Erdogan has repeatedly accused Mr Gulen of trying to foment an uprising in the military, media and judiciary.
Fethullah Gulen’s organisation runs various activities across the world. There are more than 100 primary, middle and secondary schools in Africa that belong to Gulen.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahiga has said that the government is working on reports that some Tanzanians are engaging in a rebel group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of DRC Congo, which has camped in the eastern part of the country .
He said that during the Southern African Development Community (SADC) conference held in Maputo early this month it was discovered that this group has been a threat not only to Congo but also to the regional bloc because it has been associating with terrorist groups.
“There are reports that some Tanzanians, Kenyans and Somalis have been engaging with this group ... We are going to find out which part sof the country these rebels are coming from and take appropriate action against them,” Dr Mahiga stated.
He, however, noted that during the conference, Tanzania took over the chairmanship of the SADC Troika.
Mr Mahiga said that the Double Troika Summit of the Heads of State and government will be held on August 29 and 30 whereby Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi will hand over the chairmanship to President John Magufuli.