Opposition leader and presidential hopeful Tundu Lissu has returned to Tanzania nearly three years after he fled the country following an assassination attempt.
Lissu was welcomed by loyal supporters who flocked to the street to celebrate his return. As he exited the airport in Dar es Salaam, his supporters energetically chanted, “President! President!”
He smiled and waved in return.
Lissu has been living in Belgium since the shooting and has undergone more than 20 medical operations. Following the 2017 attack, Magufuli’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party publicly condemned the assault, referring to it as a “cruel and inhuman act.”
In the past, Lissu has been openly critical of Tanzania’s sitting President John Magufuli.
Speaking to the BBC’s Hardtalk last year, Lissu said he believed Tanzania’s laws against homosexuality violated people’s right to privacy, making them unconstitutional.
The country’s Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act 1998, criminalizes acts of “gross indecency” between same-sex couples with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a hefty fine. Sexual intercourse carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment
“We should never allow the government to start peeping into people’s bedrooms,” he insisted.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Magufuli has been accused of restricting freedoms, impeding human rights and increasing authoritarianism. His government has closed several non-state run newspapers as well as numerous non-governmental organizations.
Last month, Freeman Mbowe, another of the country’s leading opposition figures, was rushed to hospital after being brutally beaten. The Chadema Party believes that the attack was “politically motivated.”
“Unknown people surrounded him and assaulted him before he started taking the stairs. Though these people had carried firearms, they didn’t use them,” said Chadema’s Secretary-General John Mnyika per Aljazeera.
The attack on Mbobwe came just a day after Lissu announced his intention to run against Magufuli in upcoming October election.