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Tanzania’s Prominent Opposition Politicians Fleeing Country Over Death Threats

Africa | Tanzania November 11, 2020



Tanzania’s prominent opposition politicians are fleeing the country over alleged death threats, reported some East African media on November 10, 2020.


According to the reports the opposition politicians that have fled the East African nation over death threats include former presidential nominee Tundu Lissu and former member of parliament Godbless Lema.


On the one hand, Tundu Lissu fled to Belgium on November 10, 2020 after he had taken refugee in the Germany embassy in Dar es Salaam since November 6, 2020. He reportedly said he had credible information that his life was in danger. On September 17, 2017, he was shot multiple times and seriously wounded, near his home in the capital Dodoma, during a parliamentary session break. No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.


On the other hand, Godbless Lema accompanied by his family fled the country to neighboring Kenya to seek protection from what he reportedly said death threats. He is said to have crossed into Kenya in a taxi from the northern city of Arusha, via Namanga border post, on November 8, 2020. He has now been granted asylum by the Government of Kenya, some of the reports say.


A third opposition politician, former minister of natural resources Lazaro Nyalandu, is said to have attempted to fled to Kenya via Namanga border post as well, but was not lucky enough. He was stopped at the border for allegedly failing to produce several documents. He reportedly also cited death threats as reason for his desire to flee the country.


The fleeing of prominent opposition politicians in Tanzania is said to have followed arbitrary arrests and releases of opposition politicians after the country’s general elections held on October 28, 2020, which saw the incumbent President John Magufuli re-elected for a second term. The opposition parties rejected the results of the elections alleging election irregularities. Leaders of the opposition parties are said to have called for peaceful nationwide protests against the results. In response, the police there reportedly said such protests would be illegal. As such, the leaders who made the calls were arrested but later released without charge or on bail.


Politicians on the run over death threats is unprecedented in post-independence mainland Tanzania. Not even when the country was a one-party socialist state. The phenomenon may indicate a changing image of a country that was once described and praised as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa.


Notwithstanding, nevertheless, the government there still insists that the image of the country in terms of peace is still the same. Citing what it called peaceful general elections without mentioning the silencing of those who did not agree with the results of the elections, through banning peaceful protests and arbitrary arrest of opposition leaders behind the planned protests. By inference, therefore, what could be claimed to be peace by the government there, could be seen as involuntary silence by the populace emanating from fear of what could be unleashed on them by the police and probably other security organs. And for those opposition politicians on the run, the fear has become too much to bear!

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