‘Attack against democracy’ – EU and US respond to assault on Tanzania’s official opposition leader

CAPE TOWN, June 10 (ANA) – The European Union heads of mission in Tanzania and the US embassy have released a statement on the attack on the country’s official opposition leader and member of parliament Freeman Mbowe.

The US embassy in Tanzania said it was “shocked and appalled” by the attack on Mbowe, the leader of the Chadema party.

In a statement on Tuesday, the embassy said it was “the latest in a long series of disturbing acts of violence and harassment perpetrated against members of the opposition”.

The statement also raised the matter of the attempted assassination of Tundu Lissu in 2017 and urged for those responsible for the attacks on both Lissu and Mbowe to be identified and brought to justice.

Lissu is now vice-chairman of Chadema. After the assassination attempt he went into self-imposed exile in Belgium. There have been no arrests in connection with the attempt on his life and the investigation remains open, according to Bloomberg.

Lissu has stated that he will be running for president in the October elections, reported Bloomberg.

“Every attack against a representative of the institutions of the United Republic of Tanzania, whatever his/her political affiliation, is an attack against democracy,” the EU said in a statement yesterday in response to the attack on Mbowe.

“With general elections only a few months ahead of us, it is essential to let democracy take its course and ensure all conditions to full participation in credible and transparent elections,” the statement added.

The Chadema party released a series of statements on Twitter after the incident. The party said Mbowe was attacked by unidentified assailants on return to his home earlier this week in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital.

Mbowe has sustained various injuries; however, the party is still awaiting a full statement from his doctors.

He was moved to Dar es Salaam for treatment and the investigation is ongoing, although the party remains critical of the investigation being conducted by Tanzania’s police service.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher