Tanzania’s main opposition leader Tundu Lissu sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the city of Dar es Salaam, claiming he feared for his life after a contentious election.
Lissu and other opposition leaders were briefly detained by the police last week after calling for nationwide street protests against the East African country’s Oct. 28 election, which they said was rigged in favor of the ruling party. The electoral body said the poll was free and credible.
“I’m staying at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday because of threats on my life,” Lissu told Bloomberg on Saturday by telephone. Unidentified people had threatened to deal with him “once and for all,” he said. “I read that as: They are out to kill me.”
Calls to the Dar es Salaam police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, weren’t answered. Police said recently that the security situation was calm, with no incidents of election-related violence.
Lissu, 52, who was defeated by President John Magufuli in the election, has urged supporters to take part in peaceful demonstrations against the vote. Tanzanian authorities banned the protests and arrested opposition leaders. Mass protests could derail one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer.
Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, has faced criticism for stifling dissent and eroding civil liberties. He denies the allegations. Magufuli, of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, was sworn in for a second five-year term on Nov. 5 after winning re-election.
Lissu returned to Tanzania in July from self-imposed exile in Belgium, where he was receiving medical attention after a September 2017 attempt on his life. He had been shot by unidentified gunmen in the capital, Dodoma. No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.
“I just want safe passage out of the country, given the deterioration in the security situation for myself,” Lissu said.