Main Tanzania opposition party says leader arrested, missing

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Tanzania’s leading opposition party said Wednesday the whereabouts of its party leader Freeman Mbowe are unknown after police arrested him Tuesday while he met with 10 other officials.

“We see this as a kidnapping,” CHADEMA secretary general John Mnyika told journalists.

CHADEMA spokesman John Mrema in a statement said the others were taken to the central police station in Mwanza.

A police spokesman did not comment.

Politically motivated arrests were common under former President John Magufuli, who died in March. Many in Tanzania expected them to end under current President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Magufuli’s former deputy. Hassan has reversed Tanzania’s practice of denying COVID-19’s spread in the East African country, and she has asked media houses whose licenses were suspended to reapply.

Mbowe was attacked and injured by unidentified assailants months before last year’s elections. He later alleged that the October vote in which Magufuli won a second term was marred by widespread fraud and a “butchering of democracy.”

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