Harris is on a three-nation trip to Africa, the latest push by the United States to deepen its engagement with Africa to counter the growing influence of China and Russia. After Tanzania, Harris' next stop is Zambia.US Vice President Kamala Harris has encouraged Tanzania's fragile progress toward a more inclusive government as she stepped onto the front lines of America's push to strengthen democracy in Africa. Harris arrived in Tanzania late Wednesday after visiting Ghana.

Also Read | CNH Industrial Agrees to Buy Hemisphere GNSS for $175 Mln – Latest Tweet by Reuters.

Standing alongside Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania's first female president, on Thursday, Harris cited recent decisions from Tanzania, such as lifting a ban on opposition rallies and encouraging more press freedom, as "important and meaningful steps" toward democratic reforms in the country.

Also Read | HIV-positive Adults, Children Face Stigma in Pakistan.

"The United States will continue to work alongside democratic governments in support of democratic aspiration and the democratic aspirations in particular of the people of this continent," Harris said.

Harris also laid a wreath at a memorial commemorating the August 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic hub.

The almost simultaneous attacks by Al-Qaeda in Tanzania and at the US embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi left more than 200 people dead and more than 5,000 wounded.

Undoing Magufuli's legacy pays off

Comparing her to her predecessor John Magufuli, Harris described Hassan as a "champion" of democracy. "There is so much potential for growth here," Harris said.

Hassan is finishing out the term of Magufuli, who earned a reputation for stamping out dissent, arresting critics, and forcing them into exile before he died in office.

Therefore, the meeting between Hassan and Harris, the first woman to serve as US vice president, was a noteworthy show of support from Washington as the United States deepens its outreach to Africa.

Hassan has undone some of Tanzania's more oppressive policies even though she came to power as a member of the ruling party. However, hard-liners have been uncomfortable with some of Hassan's changes, which could cost her in the next election two years from now.

New trade partnership

Harris announced $560 million (€513 million) in US assistance for Tanzania, some of which will require congressional approval. The money is intended to expand the two countries' trade relationship and encourage democratic governance.

During a previous meeting in Washington, Harris told Hassan that "we welcome the progress that you have made during your leadership and, in particular, the work you have done to empower women leaders in Tanzania and your work to support human rights."

"There's so much excitement here, and people are saying it's like Madam President's efforts in changing the country are being rewarded with recognition from an economic and political superpower that is the US," said Tanzania-based analyst Mohamed Issa Hemed.

Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja, Nigeria, said Harris' visit could help galvanize enthusiasm when there are concerns over backsliding into authoritarianism in Africa and around the world.

"Many people will want the US to speak to the issue of democracy, which they feel is beginning to decline and is not what it used to be," she said. "There are more that need to be assured that democracy is here to stay."

Harris is scheduled to spend two nights in Tanzania, then conclude her weeklong trip with a stop in Zambia, another country that is striving to strengthen its democracy. She plans to return to Washington on Sunday.

Edited by: Carla Bleiker

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 30, 2023 11:10 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).