Tanzanian opposition politician and presidential hopeful Tundu Lissu returned to the country on Monday, three years after being shot 16 times. The gunmen have never been found.
Immediately upon his arrival at the international airport in Dar es Salaam, the former lawmaker told reporters and CHADEMA opposition party supporters he was well. “My leg is shorter by several centimeters. I am very fine now,” he said.
His return from Belgium comes as the top opposition parties consider joining forces behind a single candidate to challenge President John Magufuli, who seeks a second five-year term. Human rights groups and critics accuse his administration of shutting down dissenting voices by banning opposition political gatherings, arresting opposition figures and shutting down media outlets.
Hundreds of CHADEMA party supporters gathered at the airport Monday, with some kneeling at the arrival gate in defiance of a police order barring unlawful public gatherings.
Lissu has announced his presidential run and expects the CHADEMA party to endorse him.
His party in a statement said he is expected to attend a memorial on Tuesday for Tanzania’s late President Benjamin Mkapa. There he could cross paths with Magufuli.
Lissu still faces six criminal charges, including one related to his calling Magufuli a dictator. In a statement on Facebook, Lissu has declared he is a free man out on bail.
Rights groups and the opposition party have urged authorities to provide him with appropriate security.