Lissu returns to Tanzania from exile to face President Magufuli in general election

Lissu poses for a photo with his driver, Adam Bakari Mohammed, at the Brussels Zaventern National Airport shortly before checking in for his flight.

TUNDU Lissu, a Tanzanian opposition leader who was flown out of his country while in a coma after an assassination attempt on his life in 2017, is due to arrive in his home country on Monday after three years of treatment in Kenya and Belgium.

Lissu left Belgium today (Sunday) and is expected to arrive in Tanzania around 1 pm East African time tomorrow. 

His return follows his recent announcement to challenge current President John Magufuli in the upcoming Tanzanian general election in October.

“I’m flying Ethiopian Airlines. I have a lot of mixed feelings. I’ve been away for three years. I left the country unconscious and this is the first time I return home in three years. So, there are lots of emotions that are hard to express,” Lissu told SAUTI KUBWA shortly before his departure.

He is accompanied by a delegation of eminent persons from reputable international organisations in Europe and the USA to ensure his safe arrival at Dar es Salaam. 

His party – CHADEMA – was scheduled to have its national congress for the nomination of a presidential candidate – most likely him –  on July 28, but had to postpone it to August 4 in honour of the passing of country’s former President Benjamin Mkapa on Friday last week. 

While his party has been mobilising members to give him a warm welcome on his arrival at the Julius Nyerere International Airport on Monday afternoon, police in the Dar es Salaam Zone has issued a stern warning against any gathering to that effect.

But CHADEMA secretary-general, John Mnyika, has issued a counter-statement insisting that Lissu’s reception would go on as planned. 

Tanzania, under five years of Magufuli’s regime, has seen a ruthless clampdown on independent media including harassment, intimidation and arrests of critics. What’s more,  even disappearances becoming commonplace.

Lissu was shot multiple times and seriously injured on September 7, 2017, by unknown assailants whilst in his car in the parking lot of his parliamentary residence in the capital Dodoma. 

He received emergency treatment for hours at Dodoma General Hospital before, for his safety, was air-lifted to Nairobi Hospital in neighbouring Kenya where he was hospitalised for four months until January 5, 2018.

Then, he was subsequently flown to Belgium for further treatment and rehabilitation. Until today, police in Tanzania have questionably made no arrest whatsoever in connection with Lissu’s shooting.

He was supposed to have flown back home in September 2019 but he postponed his trip on security grounds. The security concerns prevail, and the world is closely watching his home-coming.


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