A committee of US lawmakers has expressed concern over the arrest of the Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe and 11 other officials.

It said the arrests had “unfortunately minimised any hope” for a more democratic society, according to a statement

by Karen Bass, the chairperson of US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa.

She said President Samia Suluhu Hassan had appeared “to be on a different path for leading Tanzania forward to a more democratic society” after taking over from President John Magufuli, who died in March.

The Tanzanian police on Thursday said Mr Mbowe would face various charges including conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and killing government officials.

Police spokesman David Misime said the opposition leader was not arrested for organising a rally over constitutional reforms in Mwanza as widely reported.

Mr Mbowe has denied the accusations and his party Chadema quoted him saying that he was ready “for the fabricated case… I am not afraid.”

Until now, Mr Mbowe and his co-accused have not been taken to court and the police say they are holding them for further questioning.

Wednesday’s arrests in Mwanza have attracted wide criticism including from human rights bodies.


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