Following terror charges on Freeman Mbowe, the Tanzanian main opposition leader, party members called for protests, claiming it’s a legal challenge to charges of terrorism filed against him.
A court in Tanzania charged the leader of the main opposition party with terrorism-related crimes on Monday according to Tanzanian police force.
Freeman Mbowe, head of the Chadema party, and 10 others were detained in the city of Mwanza on Wednesday, in what the party said was proof that President Samia Suluhu Hassan was continuing with the authoritarianism of her late predecessor John Magufuli.
Jumanne Muliro, Dar es Salaam special zone police commander, said Mbowe had been charged at Dar es Salaam’s Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s court.
“It is true that he was charged in court this afternoon for the charges that were initially reported by the police in a statement,” he told Reuters by phone.
Mbowe, 59, was charged on Monday with terrorism financing and conspiracy — offences that do not allow for bail under Tanzanian law.
Mbowe was transferred to a prison in Tanzania’s financial capital Dar slam where police said he was promoting terrorism acts including killing government officials
This forced Tanzania’s main opposition party on Saturday to call for protests over the arrest of its leader and said it had mounted a legal challenge to charges of terrorism filed against him.
At a press briefing on Saturday, Chadema secretary general John Mnyika said the party had filed a legal challenge to the case against Mbowe, claiming he was charged in absence of his lawyers in violation of his rights.
“Mbowe’s arrest was not only attacking him but also an attack against rights, freedoms and democracy in Tanzania,” said Mnyika, who was dress in a red T-Shirt emblazoned with the words “Katiba Mpya”, Swahili for “New Constitution”.
Mnyika urged party members and supporters to stage peaceful protests against the “fabricated” charges when Mbowe’s case is due back in court on August 5.
Critics have said the action against him was a throwback to the heavy-handed rule of the “Bulldozer” Magufuli who banned political rallies and cracked down on the media and civil society.
“What is happening now is not what (president) Samia has been portraying through her speeches and promises,” Mnyika said.
“Magufuli oppressed the opposition and press freedom but had not reached this level of fabricating terrorism charges against the opposition.”