DAR ES SALAAM, 28 July 2021 – Detained Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe has been charged with terrorism-related crimes, according to reports and a tweet by his party.
The opposition Chadema party confirmed Monday on Twitter that its leader was facing terrorism charges.
Tanzanian authorities did not confirm the charges brought against Mbowe, who was arraigned Monday before a court in Tanzania’s economic capital, Dar es Salaam.
The police chief in Dar es Salaam, Muliro Jumanne, on Monday said Mbowe faces charges for crimes “that would have likely wreaked havoc in this country”.
Muliro Jumanne gave no further details on the crimes for which the opposition leader remained in detention on Tuesday.
Persons accused of terrorism in Tanzania cannot be granted bail, meaning Mbowe will remain in detention until his trial is over.
Mbowe and eleven other party officials were arrested last week in the northern Tanzanian city of Mwanza while they were meeting to discuss the need for a new constitution.
Mbowe posted a tweet, reaffirming his support for the constitutional changes he and fellow opposition leaders have been campaigning for.
“Our call for new constitution in Tanzania has brought me a terrorism case. I’m ready to face it without fear,” wrote a defiant Mbowe on Twitter.
The government of President Samia Suluhu Hassan is opposed to the constitutional amendments Mbowe and the eleven others are pushing for.
Mbowe has also been accused of killing government officials – charges which he has denied, describing the origin of all charges against him as “fabricated from thin air”.
Tanzania’s government has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for the arrests of Mbowe and the eleven others, with human rights group, Amnesty International calling for his immediate release.
The U.S. Congress has spoken out against the arrests and detention.
The chairperson of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Rep. Karen Bass, has said the arrests and ongoing detention have, unfortunately, minimized hopes raised by the inauguration of President Suluhu Hassan that Tanzania would become a more democratic society.
Suluhu Hassan took over from President John Magufuli, who died in office last March, and most Tanzania watchers have rested great hope in her ending the turn towards autocracy and dictatorship that Tanzania appeared to be slipping into under Magufuli.