Tanzanian MP arrested for insulting Magufuli

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Chadema's Halima James Mdee

An opposition MP in Tanzania has been arrested by police for allegedly insulting President John Magufuli by saying he has become “ill-mannered” and will one day “order Tanzanians to go topless”.

Halima Mdee was detained on Tuesday evening on the orders of a district commissioner in the main city, Dar es Salaam, after he accused her of making “unacceptable” comments at a meeting of her Chadema party on Monday.

Four policemen picked her up from her home in Dar es Salaam, local media reports.

Under the law, she has to be released or charged within 48 hours.

Her arrest comes just days after Mr Magufuli warned opposition leaders to be careful about what they say in public.

Victoria University

He told the authorities to take action against anyone who incites violence.

The youthful Ms Mdee is alleged to have insulted the president while criticising him for saying that girls who give birth should not be allowed to return to school.

At a rally last month, Mr Magufuli told schoolgirls: “After getting pregnant, you are done.”

The arrest of Mdee has been strongly condemned, with critics saying it is the latest sign that the government is abusing its power and trying to suppress freedom of expression.

Chadema spokesman Tumaini Makene told the BBC that the party was considering legal action against the district commissioner who ordered her arrest “and all other commissioners who are violating the law”.

Ms Mdee is a member of Chadema, the main opposition party in the East African state.

The Alliance for Change and Transparency party leader Zitto Kabwe said her arrest was a “continuation of the misuse of power”.

The law which gives a district commissioner the power to order an arrest “has nothing to do with what Mdee is accused of,” he added.

Several people have previously been arrested for posting comments on social media that authorities deemed to be politically offensive.

The authorities believe they are acting within the law, and takings steps to ensure there are no “public disturbances” in Tanzania.

Mr Magufuli won presidential elections in 2015 and despite criticism from the opposition and rights groups, commands the support of many Tanzanians.

Source: AFP/BBC

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