A Tanzanian opposition MP has been arrested for insulting the president, his party said Wednesday, after revealing an aeroplane bought for the national carrier was being held in Canada over unpaid debts.
It is the sixth time this year the opposition’s deputy leader, Tundu Lissu, has been arrested.
Last week Lissu said a Bombardier Q400, bought by the government for use by Air Tanzania, had been seized by Canadian authorities over an unpaid debt of $38 million (32 million euros) owed to a Canadian engineering company since 2010.
Lissu was arrested on Tuesday and is to be prosecuted for “insulting the head of state and for seditious remarks in connection with the seizure” of the plane, said Tumaini Makene, a spokesman for the opposition Chadema party.
The International Court of Arbitration in 2010 ruled in favour of Canadian company Stirling Engineering which had been contracted to build a road in Tanzania but then had the deal terminated by the government without compensation.
At the time President John Magufuli was minister of public works responsible for road building.
On Saturday, the Tanzanian government confirmed the seizure of the plane while accusing the opposition of lacking patriotism.
Magufuli is praised for his stance against corruption but criticised for his autocratic tendencies.
In a separate dispute with a Canadian company, Tanzania’s government is seeking $190 billion in back taxes, penalties and interest from London-listed Acacia Mining, majority owned by Canadian giant Barrick Gold, which is accused of under-reporting production and profits over many years.