The leader of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) opposition party, Zitto Kabwe, along with seven colleagues, were arrested on Tuesday, June 23, in Kilwa (Lindi region) during an unsanctioned campaign rally ahead of the general elections in October.
The incident follows the assault on another opposition politician, Freeman Mbowe, on Tuesday, June 9, outside his home in Dodoma. Mbowe was reportedly ambushed by a group of unidentified assailants in the early hours as he returned home from a political meeting, suffering a broken leg and other blunt force trauma injuries in the attack.
These incidents highlight the threat of political violence leading up to the general elections.
There have been significant concerns over increasing levels of political violence in Tanzania under President John Magufuli. Dozens of opposition activists have been threatened, attacked, or abducted by unidentified assailants since the president took office 2015, but despite claims by the police to be investigating and monitoring the incidents, few arrests have been made. These attacks have included the attempted assassination of a prominent opposition MP, Tundu Lissu, in 2017 and the killing of two Chadema officials the following year. Other prominent activists have been kidnapped, tortured, and threatened. Many of these attacks have been linked to specific political activity and campaigns but the government has done little to acknowledge or stem the rising tide of political violence.
Those in Tanzania are advised to remain apprised of the political situation, avoid all public demonstrations and election-related events as a precaution, avoid discussing politically-sensitive topics in public, and heed all directives issued by the local authorities.
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