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Tanzania: Politicised trial of Chadema’s Mbowe is a test of Hassan’s committment to reform

By Abdul Halim, in Dar es Salaam
Posted on Thursday, 9 September 2021 08:53

Tanzania's main opposition party, the Party for Democracy and Progress, also known as Chadema, leader Freeman Mbowe flashes a two-fingers salute sitting inside a prison bus while arriving at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court, where he is facing terrorism-related charges, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania 6 August 2021. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman

Tanzania's Freeman Mbowe, leader of the main opposition party, Chadema, was sent to prison in July and is now on trial on charges of financing terrorism. He and his allies say these charged are trumped up and represent the bad old days of opposition intimidation under former president John Magufuli. What happens now is a crucial test of President Samia Suluhu Hassan's commitment to reform and levelling the political playing field.

The outspoken opposition leader was arrested in his hotel room in Mwanza on 21 July amid his party’s renewed campaign for a new constitution, which would liberalise Tanzania’s politics and weaken the dominant position of President Suluhu and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

“The government seems to believe that after arresting Mbowe, his party will stop talking about constitution reforms. This is not good,” says Emmanuel Kaniki, a political analyst based in Tabora.