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Tanzania opposition leader banned from comment ahead of vote

May 29, 2020 - 5:24 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya - A Tanzanian court has found an opposition leader guilty of sedition and banned him from making public statements for one year, just months ahead of the presidential election.

The magistrates court released Zitto Kabwe, leader of the ACT-Wazalendo party, on the condition that he does not make “seditious” statements for a year.

It is not clear who decides what statements are seditious in the East African country, and human rights groups have called for the related colonial-era laws to be repealed.

Kabwe's party said it will appeal the decision.

“The judgment and related conditional discharge is tantamount to censorship, effectively barring Zitto from saying anything critical of the government and the president during an election year,” vice chair Dorothy Semu said in a statement.

Kabwe has been among the most vocal critics of President John Magufuli's five-year rule. Magufuli seeks reelection in October.

Rights groups accuse Magufuli's administration of stifling criticism, targeting independent journalism and severely restricting the activities of non-governmental organizations. Opposition parties have been banned from political activities including public rallies.

Kabwe, a lawmaker, was accused of making seditious statements in 2018 during a press conference in which he asserted that 100 people had been killed in clashes between cattle keepers and police in Uvinza district.

His sentence comes weeks after the national chairman of the opposition Chadema party, Freeman Mbowe, and eight others were sentenced to serve a five-month jail term or pay or fines for charges including conspiracy to commit offences, unlawful assembly, sedition and incitement.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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