Police arrested several senior members of the Chadema opposition on Monday, November 2, including the party's chairman Freeman Mbowe, on charges of inciting protests. Chadema's Northern Region leader Godbless Lema, the former mayor of Dar es Salaam Isaya Mwita, and the former leader of the Ubungo municipality Boniface Jacob were also reported to have been detained. The arrests come after the Chadema leaders participated in a joint press conference with the Zanzibar-based ACT-Wazalendo (Alliance for Change and Transparency) opposition on Saturday, October 31, at which they denounced the results of the country's general election held on Wednesday, October 28, as fraudulent and called for anti-government protests. Opposition-led demonstrations against the result were expected to begin on Monday, but there have so far been no reports of significant unrest.
On Sunday, November 1, police confirmed that they are continuing to hold several dozen ACT-Wazalendo members, including the party's deputy secretary-general Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, over alleged attempts to disrupt Wednesday's poll. The group were reportedly arrested on various charges, including possession of devices allegedly used to interfere with voting, but had been held incommunicado since their detention amid unrest on the islands on polling day.
Protests over the election result are likely across Tanzania in the medium term, particularly in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, and opposition strongholds elsewhere in the country. Any anti-government demonstrations are likely to be dispersed by security forces and there is a realistic possibility of violent unrest.
Incumbent President John Magufuli was announced by the National Election Commission to have won the October 28 election with 84 percent of the vote, beating the opposition Chadema candidate Tundu Lissu who won just 13 percent. Magufuli's Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) also retained control of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago after winning a 76 percent majority. However, the results were denounced by both Chadema and the Zanzibar-based ACT-Wazalendo as fraudulent. Several countries, including the US and UK, also raised concerns over the poll amid allegations of voter intimidation and electoral irregularities.
The October 28 poll was also marred by political violence in some areas, including Zanzibar, with the ACT-Wazalendo claiming that more than a dozen of their supporters were killed in clashes with security forces on the islands of Pemba and Unguja during the election. Fatal clashes between rival political groups were also reported in the northern Rorya District, an opposition stronghold, on Friday, October 30.
There have been significant concerns over increasing levels of political violence in Tanzania under Magufuli. Dozens of opposition activists have been threatened, attacked, or abducted by unidentified assailants since the president took office in 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 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 political gatherings as a precaution, avoid discussing politically-sensitive topics in public or on social media, and heed all directives issued by the local authorities.
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