Tanzania fires ministers over anti-poaching abuses: PM

ARUSHA, Tanzania (AFP) - Tanzania on Friday fired four key ministers for abuses committed by the security forces during a controversial anti-poaching drive, the Prime Minister said.

The officials fired are Defence Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, Interior Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi, Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki and Lifestock and Fisheries Minister David Matayo. All four are from the ruling party.

"I spoke to the Head of State and he told me he had decided to fire all four ministers," Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said at the end of a day of fierce debate at the national assembly, broadcast live on television.

President Jakaya Kikwete is in the United States for medical reasons.

Police and wildlife officers in October started a crackdown on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

Members of the security forces taking part were accused of numerous killings, incidents of torture and rapes.

Friday's debates focused on the findings of a parliamentary commission of enquiry into the abuses.

National Resources Minister Kagasheki, present in parliament, announced his resignation before the Prime Minister announced it.

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