Tanzania opposition leader charged for 'inciting hatred'

The head of Tanzania's main opposition party was charged on Tuesday with inciting hatred and rebellion after being arrested alongside five other members of his party, a legal source said.

Freeman Mbowe, leader of the Chadema party, was charged over his alleged role in a February 16 protest during which a 22-year-old student who was not taking part was shot dead by a stray bullet from police.

Mbowe is being prosecuted on eight charges, according to a source at the Kisutu court in Dar es Salaam, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The charges of inciting hatred and rebellion are linked to a speech Mbowe gave during the protest in which he said President John Magufuli would not last long in his job.

Mbowe and his five co-accused were also charged over their participation in the protest, which had been banned by government.

The other accused are party secretary general Vincent Mashinji, lawmakers John Mnyika, Peter Msigwa and Esther Matiko, as well as Salum Mwalimu of the party's Zanzibar branch.

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Their arrest was announced earlier in the day by party spokesperson Tumaini Makene.

Magufuli ordered a probe into the death of the student, and several police officers have been arrested. However authorities maintain the blame lies with the organisers.

Police shot live rounds to disperse Chadema supporters who were marching to a local electoral commission office to demand accreditation to observe a by-election the following day.

Magufuli, 58, took office in 2015 as a corruption-fighting "man of the people" but has been criticised for his authoritarian leadership style with detractors saying he has clamped down on opposition and freedom of expression.

In September 2017, lawmaker Tundu Lissu, a member of Chadema, was shot several times at his home, and in February two local Chadema officials were killed by unknown gunmen, in murders described by the opposition as political assassinations.

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