The U.S. criticized Tanzania’s arrest of eight opposition leaders during their party meeting on Wednesday, saying the action stifles democratic norms.
ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe and other members were taken by authorities, citing alleged illegal assembly.“The police detained us for more than 30 hours,” Zitto told reporters, adding it was politically motivated.
Political tensions are rising in Tanzania ahead of the October general elections in which President John Magufuli plans to seek re-election.
The government also closed the Tanzania Daima newspaper following coverage critical of Magufuli’s administration.
“These actions follow a disconcerting pattern of intimidation toward opposition members, civil society and media outlets,” the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania said in a statement on its Twitter account.
Kilwa District Commissioner Christopher Ngubiagai couldn’t immediately comment on the allegations of politically-motivated arrests when contacted on Thursday. Magufuli has denied in the past he is cracking down on dissent.