Tanzania's Chadema party,chief Freeman Mbowe arrested by police

Tanzania’s Chadema party says chief Freeman Mbowe arrested by police

Tanzania’s main opposition party has said that its leader Freeman Mbowe has been detained by the police ahead of his address at a scheduled conference aimed at demanding constitutional reforms in the East African country.

Taking to Twitter, the Party for Democracy and Progress, popularly known as Chadema, said that its chairman “Mbowe and 10 other members were rounded up in the dead of night in Tanzania’s northwestern port city of Mwanza”. In the statement, Chadema’s Communication Director John Mrema added that Mbowe’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

Condemning the arrest

The party further condemned the repression of the rights of Tanzanians, adding that it indicates the continuity of dictatorship as under the rule of former President John Magufuli.

According to local media reports, an army of police officers had approached Mbowe at his hotel at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. He was later arrested with other members of the party by the police. While other leaders were taken to the Mwanza police station, Mbowe continues to be missing.

We want the police to come out and say where the chairman is and why he was arrested,” the opposition party said in the statement.

Taking to Twitter, Chadema’s deputy chairperson Tundu Lissu called for action to support democracy in the country.

Calling for political reforms is no breach of any law. I urge Tanzania’s dev’t partners to stop subsidizing the CCM dictatorship & to support democracy,” he tweeted.

Lissu further slammed President Samia Suluh Hassan, adding that after the arrest of Mbowe and Chadema leaders, it is time for nationwide protests and international isolation of her regime.

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In March 2021, Samia Suluhu Hassan took charge as the first female president of Tanzania after the unprecedented death of former president John Magufuli.

Earlier, Mbowe had pledged to hold meetings to push for constitutional reforms in the country despite a ban on public gatherings imposed by the Mwanza provincial authorities with the aim of controlling the spread of COVID-19.

“We have the right to meet but are arrested, beaten, accused, and taken to court for two to three years and then freed,” Mbowe said in a video posted on Twitter on Monday.

Call for release

Responding to the arrest of Mbowe and other Chadema officials, Amnesty International called on the Tanzanian authorities to end the crackdown on the opposition party and the leaders.

“Unless the authorities have clear legal grounds to justify these arrests, all of those arrested in this swoop must be immediately released. The Tanzania Police Force must also account for the whereabouts of Freeman Mbowe-who at present is unaccounted for-and ensure his security and safe return,” said Flavia Mqangovya, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the region, in a statement.