Chadema President Freeman Mbowe and 15 other members have gathered in a crackdown denounced as a return to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader.
Tanzania’s main opposition party has said its leader and other members will be charged with “terrorism” after they were arrested. arrested in a vast midnight raid that attracted international concern.
Chadema President Freeman Mbowe and 15 other members met during Wednesday night in a crackdown denounced as a return to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader.
Police searched Mbowe’s home in Dar es Salaam and took his laptop and other devices from family members before transferring Chadema’s president to the city’s central prison, the party said Thursday.
“We have received shocking information that Mbowe will be charged with terrorism alongside other suspects detained in Dar es Salaam prison,” he said on Twitter.
Mbowe and other Chadema officials have been arrested in the port city of Lake Victoria on Mwanza in front of a planned public forum to demand constitutional reform.
The commander of the region’s police, Ramadhan Ngh’anzi, said Mbowe would later be returned to Mwanza to join others who had been arrested for organizing the “forbidden” meeting.
“For now, he is safe at the central police station in Dar es Salaam,” he told reporters.
The arrests come four months after Tanzania’s first woman, Samia Suluhu Hassan, took office after the sudden death in March by John Magufuli, under whom such authoritarian governments have frequently been opposed.
By April, Hassan had approached the opposition and vowed to defend democracy and grassroots freedoms.
There was high hope that Tanzania would be removed from the heavy and uncompromising leadership of its predecessor.
But the group of key figures in Chadema has been condemned by rights groups and opposition activists as proof that the administration’s intolerance of dissidents still prevailed.
Amnesty International has described the arrests as “arbitrary” and part of an escalating campaign against political opposition in a country once seen as a beacon of democratic stability in the region.
“Tanzanian authorities must stop targeting the opposition and seek to restrict the space in which they are able to operate,” said Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty’s deputy director for East Africa.
“These arbitrary arrests and detentions show the Tanzanian authorities’ flagrant disregard for the rule of law, and human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and association. These politically motivated arrests must stop.”
Unless u #TanzaniaAuthorities have clear legal reasons to justify these arrests, all 11 of them @CademaTz members must be released immediately. They should also take into account the location of @freemanmbowetz and ensure their safety and safe return. https://t.co/B6toNd9LAf
– Amnesty East Africa (@AmnestyEARO) July 22, 2021
The United States said Wednesday it confirmed details of Mbowe’s arrest but that it would be “very worrying.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had encouraged Hassan in a July 6 phone call to protect civil liberties and stressed “the importance of ensuring a democratic, peaceful, free and prosperous future for all Tanzanians,” the spokesman said. of the State Department, Ned Price.
At least 150 opposition leaders, according to the UN, have been arrested after denouncing what they say was a major fraud in the October 2020 elections that returned Magufuli and Hassan to power for a second term. .
Magufuli, deeply skeptical of COVID, died in March of what authorities said was a heart disease, but his political opponents insist he had contracted the disease.