Tundu Lissu, the presidential candidate of the Party for Democracy and Progress commonly known as Chadema in Tanzania’s last month election, has fled the East African country to Europe.
Lissu left the country for Belgium, where until recently he had been receiving medical treatment after a 2017 assassination attempt against him. The 52-year-old was shot 16 times but survived.
After the election held on 28 October 2020, Lissu had sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in Dar es Salaam citing threats to his life.
The Chadema party leader and a number of his colleagues had been arrested since the polls as had members of another opposition party ACT Wazalendo.
Police accused them of planning unlawful protests and sedition. Some in Chadema were accused of planning to blow up petrol stations and markets in Dar es Salaam.
The opposition has demanded a re-run of the poll, in which the UK and the United States said there had been systematic interference.
But Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission says there was no fraud.
On Tuesday, Lissu, who says he’s leaving the country for security reasons, shared a video on his Twitter account leaving the German ambassador’s residence accompanied by diplomats to the airport.
The Chadema party leader is quoted by local media as saying he is not running away from the country but will continue fighting for democracy and justice from Belgium, where he will be based.
Tanzania’s government spokesperson said that there was no evidence of threats to opposition leaders. He accused them of alleging security threats as a cover-up plan for their election loss.
Mr Lissu returned to Tanzania in July to run for president after spending three years receiving treatment in Kenya and Belgium for gunshot wounds.
He had survived an assassination attempt in 2017 when he was hit by 16 bullets outside his residence in Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma.
Meanwhile, former Tanzania MP Godless Lema was on Monday released from Kajiado police station after fleeing his country over claims of death threats.
The former Arusha MP and his family fled from Tanzania via taxi on Sunday to Kenya seeking protection over what the MP said were attempts on his life.
He was arrested at Ilbissil in Kajiado County after he and his family crossed over through the Namanga border.
Lema was forced to spend Sunday night at Kajiado police station while his wife Neema Godbless, their three children sought protection in Nairobi.