Our Lives Are In Danger! Tanzania Opposition Leaders Cry Out For Political Asylum As Magufuli Tightens Noose

Our Lives Are In Danger! Tanzania Opposition Leaders Cry Out For Political Asylum As Magufuli Tightens Noose

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By Spy Uganda

Tanzania: Human rights group Amnesty International is calling on the Kenyan government not to deport a Tanzanian opposition politician who fled his country for fear of persecution. Godbless Lema, a former lawmaker in Tanzania’s Chadema party, left for Kenya after being briefly detained following his loss in controversial October elections.

Its worth noting that Tanzanian President John Magufuli was sworn in for a second term in office last week and opposition politicians are leaving the country in fear for their lives.

On Sunday, Kenyan authorities arrested Tanzanian opposition lawmaker and former member of parliament Godbless Lema as he crossed into Kenya with his wife and three children.

Following his arrest, Demas Kiprono, a program manager with Amnesty International Kenya came out and argued Nairobi to grant asylum to the politician who claimed his life has been threatened and he cant risk living in Tanzania.

“We spoke to his lawyer; his lawyer confirmed that he is trying to seek asylum because he doesn’t feel safe back in Tanzania. This is coupled with the fact that he was arrested and released soon after the election last week. … We must process him through the normal channels, getting in touch with the refugee bureau, so that they can assess his refugee status,” he said.

A call for Lema to be granted asylum also came from Salum Mwalimu who ran on the opposition ticket with Tundu Lissu, the man who unsuccessfully challenged  President Magufuli for the presidency.

“I think it’s good to provide any support just to protect his life rather than taking it as normal diplomacy or normal situation and deport him to Tanzania, because it will be very unfair if Lema gets back to Tanzania, and he finds his life in danger, or anything bad happens to him,” he said.

Lissu, who alleged fraud in the reelection of Magufuli, has sought asylum in the German Embassy in Tanzania.

Amnesty has accused the Tanzanian government of widespread abuses during the campaign. The rights group alleges the vote was rigged in favor of the CCM party, which has ruled since independence nearly 60 years ago.

Electoral officials say Magufuli won 84 percent of the vote. He has called for national unity, pledging to work for all Tanzanians.

An observer from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa said it noted oppression, and the opposition had been targeted in a way that challenges the fairness of the vote.

Mwalimu, meanwhile, says it’s not in Lema’s character to leave the country unless the threats he received are serious.

“I don’t think Lema just decided to take that decision. He is a senior politician, he is well experienced, and he has gone through tough moments. So, until he reached that decision, there must be something very serious which he knows by himself. If that’s the case, anything can happen to him,” he said.

Tanzanian media report another opposition MP and former presidential candidate, Lazaro Nyalundu, has been barred from leaving the country for failing to produce travel documents.

In the same Vein, Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu was briefly detained Monday after police stopped opposition parties from holding protests, according to the main opposition Chadema Party, opposition officials said Lissu was detained and questioned for several hours along with other opposition figures over a call to protest the October  elections .

The country’s main opposition parties rejected official election results that indicated that President John Magufuli won a second term with 84% percent of the vote and they are demanding a rerun of the poll, which they said was full of irregularities.

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