The Tanzanian High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition to prevent a United Arab Emirates company from running Tanzania’s ports.

The petition had been filed by four Tanzanians opposed to a 2022 deal between Tanzania and UAE. Under the agreement, the Emirati logistics company DP World was to take over the management of some ports in mainland Tanzania.

Tanzania’s parliament approved the agreement on 10 June.

The deal drew criticism from several activists, citizens and opposition politicians, who saw it as the Tanzania’s government selling off their country.

Critics were particularly concerned that the agreement failed to specify when the management of the ports would revert to Tanzania.

In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the Tanzanian government for harassing and detaining critics of the deal. It came after the government had on 19 June arrested and detained 18 individuals protesting against the agreement in the city of Dar es Salaam.

“Instead of clamping down on critics, the government should respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and listen to them,” said Oryem Nyeko, HRW’s Tanzania researcher.

The UAE firm has previously entered other deals to develop or manage African ports, including the Ain Sokhna port in Egypt, Berbera port in Somaliland, Bosaso port in Puntland and Banana port in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UAE has also expressed interest in managing the Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu ports in neighbouring Kenya.

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