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Why Tanzania’s Opposition Leader Has Been Arrested

 

By AFP

The head of Tanzania’s main opposition party was arrested Friday in Dar es Salaam, after twice failing to appear in court to face charges of illegal protest, a party official said.

Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe was arrested at Kisutu court alongside fellow opposition MP Esther Matiko, where they and seven others were attending a trial hearing for their participation in a February protest.

“They were immediately taken to prison. That is to say, they are no longer free defendants. The judge cancelled their release on bail,” said Chadema secretary-general Vincent Mashinji, who is also an accused in the case.

The magistrate ordered Mbowe’s detention after he failed to appear before the court twice, on November 1 and 8.

Mashinji said Mbowe had been ill on both occasions while Matiko, he said, had missed a hearing because she was “on an official mission to Burundi”.

Mbowe and his fellow defendants are being tried for their role in a protest march on February 16, during which a 22-year-old student was killed by a stray bullet fired by police.

Six policemen were arrested but were subsequently released with prosecutors saying blame lay with protest organisers, rather than security forces.


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