Tanzania: Tundu Lissu returns home after years in exile

He introduced he could be returning after President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted a ban on political rallies imposed by her predecessor John Magufuli, whose hardline rule stifled the opposition and free speech within the East African nation.

“With the lifting of the unlawful ban on political exercise, it’s now time to return dwelling & get again to work!” Lissu, of the principle opposition Chadema occasion, stated on Twitter saying his homecoming plans.

A fiercely outspoken critic of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) occasion, Lissu was final in Tanzania in 2020 to contest the October election in opposition to Magufuli, who died simply 5 months after profitable his second time period.

Magufuli’s victory – with an inconceivable 84 % of the vote – was hotly disputed and the opposition referred to as for protests.

Instantly after the election, Lissu stated he began receiving dying threats and was arrested however sought refuge with overseas diplomats earlier than he ultimately fled the nation.

‘Ripped aside’ by bullets

Lissu walks with a slight limp after being shot 16 instances in a 2017 assault he believes was politically motivated, requiring virtually 20 surgical procedures.

He had already been arrested six instances that yr, after which, in September, as he pulled up exterior his home in Dodoma, gunmen sprayed his automotive with bullets.

“You could have to concentrate on the truth that… all my limbs, my legs, my waist, my arms, my abdomen had been principally ripped aside by 16 bullet photographs and due to this fact to fix me, to place me again on my ft, took a very long time,” Lissu advised AFP earlier than the 2020 election.

Lissu was born in 1968 in a small village referred to as Mahambe within the central area of Singida, the place he helped his household farm and took care of his father’s cattle as a younger boy whereas attending major college.

It was whereas listening to radio programmes on present affairs and studying voraciously that Lissu first bought a style for politics.

He studied regulation on the College of Dar es Salaam and shortly plunged into human rights and environmental regulation.

‘Not afraid of anyone’

He labored from 1999-2009 for the Attorneys Environmental Motion Workforce (LEAT), combating for the rights of poor, rural communities, whether or not in opposition to industrial shrimp farming or overseas gold mining firms.

He additionally labored on environmental points between 1999 and 2002 for the Washington DC-based World Sources Institute (WRI).

Peter Veit of the WRI, who has identified Lissu for about three many years, described him as a fearless, uncompromising advocate for his trigger.

“He’s not afraid of anyone. He calls a spade a spade, and he will get in hassle,” Veit advised AFP.

“He’s such an asset for Tanzania… He’s so enthusiastic about his dwelling and his nation and attempting to get issues proper in Tanzania, ensuring there’s an sincere, accountable democratic system in place.”

Lissu’s activism led him into politics and he was elected as a member of parliament in 2010, working his means as much as being quantity two in Chadema.

Whereas he was arrested underneath the earlier authorities over his mining activism, it was after Magufuli’s election that he turned much more vocal, slamming the president as a dictator and denouncing a local weather of concern.

“President Samia Suluhu Hassan, by way of her authorities and occasion, has proven they’re prepared for a brand new journey. We have to reveal that we’re additionally prepared for that,” Lissu stated final week.

“I’m coming dwelling for the brand new starting of our nation.”

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