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Police briefly detain ex-Tanzanian PM over 'seditious' speech to Muslims

Police briefly detain ex-Tanzanian PM over 'seditious' speech to Muslims

Tanzania

Former Tanzanian Prime Minister and opposition figure Edward Lowassa was briefly detained and questioned by the police on Tuesday over a speech he made to Muslim clerics last week.

Lowassa was summoned on Monday to the police headquarters where he spent four hours on Tuesday under interrogation before he was released on bail.

His lawyer, Peter Kibatala, said he was questioned over the speech which was deemed by the police as inflammatory.

“Mr Lowassa has been questioned on what police describe as inflammatory statement. He has lodged cautionary statement and he will be required to report at the police headquarters next Thursday,” said Kibatala who was quoted by local media The Citizen.

Police have the right to establish the truth about anything they are suspicious of. I used the platform to give my views, and the media should evaluate what I said and judge whether the remarks were seditious.

Edward Lowassa addressed the media after his release saying: “police have the right to establish the truth about anything they are suspicious of. I used the platform to give my views, and the media should evaluate what I said and judge whether the remarks were seditious.”

On what he actually said at the iftar event organised by a member of parliament for Muslims at the end of the daily fast last weekend, Lowassa’s Chadema party Secretary-General Vincent Mashinji said: “he was speaking about good governance and human rights. Saying that there are people who have been detained for four years without trial is not sedition, it’s a fact.”

Lowassa’s summon follows arrest of Chadema party leaders in four regions over alleged illegal assembly, local media report.

Edward Lowassa defected from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party to the opposition in 2015 and lost the presidential election as a candidate same year against John Magufuli.

In January this year, Edward Lowassa was arrested and briefly detained by police for allegedly holding an illegal meeting in Geita, a gold mining town in the northwest of the country.

He and party officials were campaigning for their member for an impending civic by-election.

Last year, the police banned all political rallies calling them unlawful and likely to breach the peace. The president later relaxed the ban and allowed only elected officials to conduct rallies within their constituencies.

The Magufuli-led government has assumed a no-nonsense approach towards opposition forces.

In late March, popular Tanzanian rapper Emmanuel Elibariki also known as “ Nay wa Mitego” was arrested for releasing a song which is critical of the government.

He was later released on the orders of the president.

Days before his arrest, President John Magufuli sacked his Information Minister Nape Nnauye without notice.

Nape Nnauye’s sack was effected a day after a report was released by an inquiry he set up to investigate Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda who was accused of storming the studios of a private radio and television station with armed policemen to threatened workers over a television programme.

President Magufuli had earlier rejected calls by the public to dismiss the regional commissioner for his action.

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