Tanzania’s main opposition party has said that its leader and other members will be charged with “terrorism” after being arrested in a sweeping midnight raid that has drawn international concern.
Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe and 15 other members were rounded up during the night on Wednesday in a crackdown denounced as a throwback to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader.
Police searched Mbowe’s house in Dar es Salaam and seized his laptop and other devices from family members before transferring the Chadema chairman to the city’s central prison, the party said on Thursday.
“We have received shocking information that Mbowe will be jointly charged with terrorism alongside the other suspects being held in prison in Dar es Salaam jail,” it said on Twitter.
Mbowe and the other Chadema officials were arrested in the Lake Victoria port city of Mwanza ahead of a planned public forum to demand constitutional reform.
The region’s police commander Ramadhan Ngh’anzi said Mbowe would later be returned to Mwanza to join the others who were arrested for organising the “banned” meeting.
“For now, he is safe in the central police station in Dar es Salaam,” he told reporters.