Tanzania: Lissu briefly detained amid wave of opposition arrests | Tanzania


Tanzanian police released opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu after interrogating him for more than two hours, main opposition party Chadema said.Lissu’s detention on Monday came hours after several other opposition figures were arrested over a call for mass protests against what government critics say were rigged elections.

The main opposition parties rejected the official results which saw President John Magufuli win a second term with 84% of the vote on October 28 and his ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi won 97% of the seats in parliament. The Chadema and ACT Wazalendo parties called for peaceful protests and new elections on Monday.

Regional police commander Lazaro Mambosasa said Lissu’s arrest was “linked to the banned protest,” according to the AFP news agency.

However, Chadema later wrote on Twitter that his 52-year-old candidate had been “released after being questioned for two hours”.

A spokesman for the Chadema party said Lissu was detained in Dar es Salaam while in a building housing the embassies of Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, along with the delegation of European Union in Tanzania, adding that more details should be provided.

Lissu had collected 13 percent official in polls last week. He survived an assassination attempt in 2017 and returned from exile this year to join the presidential race.

Jeffrey Smith, of Vanguard Africa, a Washington-based pro-democracy nonprofit, said Lissu – who partnered with them – told him on the phone earlier that he had sought diplomatic protection for several hours without luck.

Chadema president Freeman Mbowe and six other people who were also arrested remain in detention.

“We arrested them during a meeting to organize the protests that we have already banned. Some of these people have traveled from the hinterland to Dar es Salaam and are trying to use young people to take her to the streets, ”Mambosasa said.

He added that those arrested had “admitted to organizing criminal activities such as the burning of gas stations, markets, vehicles and some government offices.”

Earlier Monday, Lissu and ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe said in a joint statement that they believed “there had been attempts to arrest both of us.”

Dozens of ACT Wazalendo members remain in detention in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, they said.

The statement called on other countries to condemn the Tanzanian government for its “tyrannical behavior” and said the protest efforts would continue.

Following Lissu’s arrest, Kabwe wrote on Twitter that “for sure” he would also be arrested. “I want to be clear, I believe in this cause, Magufuli was not legitimately elected and I believe in 100% completely peaceful demonstrations. We believe in non-violence. We will win that too.

US Ambassador Donald Wright said the arrest reports were “extremely worrying.”

“I urge the government to ensure the safety and security of all opposition leaders, to end these targeted arrests, to release the detainees, to restore telecommunications and to allow all citizens due process in accordance with to the law, ”he wrote on Twitter.

Opposition leaders said police had charged colleagues with “terrorism-related offenses” and cordoned off areas where a peaceful protest was due to start in last week’s elections, which they deemed too flawed to be carried out. present.

Emmanuel Mvula, campaign manager of the ACT Wazalendo party, told the Associated Press news agency that there was a “heavy deployment of security forces” in the commercial center of Dar es Salaam, where the two main parties d opposition planned to march towards the national electoral commission.

“We were unable to protest,” Lissu told Reuters news agency on Monday, citing massive deployments of police in the streets and the arrest of several party officials and supporters.

The opposition has alleged widespread irregularities before and during the vote in the country which some observers say have radically deviated from democratic ideals over the past five years.

In his bid for a second term, Magufuli pledged to revive the economy by completing infrastructure projects started during his first term and to continue cracking down on corruption.

But opposition and rights groups have complained that his administration has suppressed critical voices, shutting down media and preventing opposition rallies. The government has denied stifling dissent.

Allegations about the electoral process include the rejection of thousands of observers, a massive slowdown in internet and text messaging services and deadly violence.

Few independent observers were allowed while many journalists from foreign media, including Al Jazeera, were unable to obtain accreditation to cover the elections.

In its latest critical statement on Monday, the United States warned that “in coordination with our partners [it] will consider actions, including visa restrictions where appropriate, to hold accountable those held responsible for human rights violations and interference in the electoral process ”.

The US statement added: “We remain deeply concerned about credible reports of large and widespread voting irregularities, Internet disruption, arrests and violence by security forces both in and Mainland Tanzania than in Zanzibar. ” He called on all parties to show restraint.


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