Tanzania govt opponents held after vote

Duncan Miriri
·2-min read

Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has been arrested, his Chadema party says, after police thwarted planned opposition protests against last week's election by detaining several officials of the main opposition party.

The opposition has demanded a re-run of the vote, citing what they called widespread suspected fraud, and called for protests against the outcome, which returned President John Magufuli to office with 84 per cent of the vote on October 28.

Chadema gave no more details of Lissu's arrest and police were not immediately available for comment.

"We have not been able to protest," Tundu Lissu, who garnered an official 13 per cent, told Reuters earlier, citing heavy deployments of the police on the streets and the arrest of several party officials and supporters.

Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, former lawmaker Godbless Lema and the former mayor of Ubungo municipality, Boniface Jacob, were all arrested early on Monday.

"I got a message around midnight that they had been taken in," Lissu said.

Mbowe, Lema and Jacob, together with seven of their supporters, were arrested to prevent them destroying property under the guise of protests, according to Lazaro Mambosasa, Dar es Salaam's regional police commander.

"We are searching for others. Since we started arresting the suspects, the opposition has restrained itself and the city is calm," he told Reuters, adding that no one had been charged.

Except for serious crimes, a person can be detained for up to 24 hours without charges in Tanzania.

Last week, Tanzanians reported country-wide problems accessing social media platforms, including Twitter and WhatsApp in what critics said was a state effort to curb dissent by limiting people's ability to communicate.

Twitter confirmed that it had noted some "throttling" of its platform while internet blockage monitor NetBlocks observed widespread disruption.

ACT-Wazalendo party, which joined Chadema in rejecting the results and calling for the protests, said it wants an international panel to investigate all the allegations and oversee an election re-run.

Tanzania's electoral commission said last week there was no evidence of irregularities, like fake ballots, during voting.

Magufuli's CCM party, a version of which has held power since independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, also increased its parliamentary majority to 97 per cent of the 264 seats from three quarters in the previous five years.