US sanctions Tanzanian official for targeting gays, others

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The United States has sanctioned a Tanzanian official who sparked fear in the gay community by announcing plans to track and punish homosexuals in the East African nation.

The U.S. statement Friday said Paul Christian Makonda, regional commissioner for Dar es Salaam, is accused of “targeting marginalized individuals,” repressing the opposition and cracking down on freedom of expression.

In a travel warning in December, the U.S. said “individuals detained under suspicion of same-sex sexual conduct could be subject to forced anal examinations.“

The new statement also says the U.S. is deeply concerned with the deteriorating respect for human rights in Tanzania, whose first-term President John Magufuli has been accused by rights groups of widespread repression of the opposition, journalists and others.

The U.S. statement comes ahead of Tanzania’s presidential election in October. A separate statement by the U.S. Embassy on Friday said it was encouraged by Magufuli’s assurances of a “free, fair, and transparent” vote and his invitation to international observers.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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