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World News

Tanzanian opposition leader takes refuge in German ambassador's residence

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu said on Saturday he had taken refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam after receiving death threats following a disputed election.

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Lissu, who as head of leading opposition party CHADEMA was the main challenger to President John Magufuli in the Oct. 28 election, said that right after the vote he started getting death threats, and he entered the German residence on Monday.

“I received two unknown calls whose callers told me they will deal with me once and for all,” he told Reuters.

“I had to move from my home last Sunday to a friend’s home and then on Monday I went to the German (residence) seeking a temporary refuge for security reasons. Before entering the (residence), I was arrested and questioned temporarily before they released me,” Lissu said.

“We are (now) waiting for the embassy to negotiate with the government for us to leave (to go) abroad. I cannot leave in a normal way without security assurance.”

In Berlin, a German official said Lissu had been at the German ambassador’s residence. He had no further information for the time being.

Police said there were no threats against Lissu and were unaware of him seeking refuge, adding that he had been provided with police security in the run-up to the elections.

Lissu was shot 16 times and serious wounded in 2017 in what remains an unsolved case.

He and other opposition leaders including CHADEMA chairman Freeman Mbowe and ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe were briefly arrested this week after calling for demonstrations to demand a re-run of the election, saying it was riddled with fraud. They also want a new independent electoral commission.

Police said the demonstrations were illegal and were meant to cause violence.

Magufuli, who was sworn in on Thursday for his final five-year term, has promised to work with his rivals.

He is praised by some for pushing through big-impact infrastructure projects and a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

His critics accuse his government of intolerance and authoritarianism, including a crackdown on critical voices, closure of some media outlets and preventing opposition rallies.

The government denies that it stifles dissent.

Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Berlin; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Heinrich

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