Tanzania frees opposition leader Freeman Mbowe who is also the Chadema party chairperson has been released from jail following dropped charges against him by the court on Friday.
But the decision triggered scenes of celebration in court, according to a video posted on Twitter by Chadema and was also welcomed by the US ambassador to Tanzania.
Mbowe was a free man on Friday after prosecutors dropped terrorism charges against him, ending a case that his supporters had branded a government bid to crush dissent.
President Samia Suhulu Hassan had come under mounting pressure to dismiss the case against the Chadema party chairman, which raised concerns at home and abroad about the state of political and media freedoms in the East African country.
“Justice won today,” Chadema’s deputy secretary General Benson Kigaila told a crowd of jubilant supporters gathered at party headquarters hoping to see Mbowe.
They had been behind bars for more than seven months, charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and funding terrorism.
“Because the (prosecution) has submitted an intention to drop the case and the defence side has accepted it, the case is now removed from the court and I order the suspects to be released unconditionally,” said Judge Joachim Tiganga.
Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe and ten other Chadema party leaders were arrested on suspicion of inciting unauthorised assemblyn in July last year.
Ten other leaders arrested alongside him and taken to the Central Police Station in Mwanza after rounded up in the northwestern port city of Mwanza, the party last year.
“We condemn the repression of the rights of Tanzanians with the strongest force. These are signs that the dictatorship that existed during the rule of President John Magufuli continues,” it charged.
According to local media in the East Africa nation, police confirmed the arrests on suspicion of inciting “unauthorised assembly in an effort to revive support and had vowed to hold a big political rally to push for the drafting of a new constitution.
The arrests came four months after Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March last year following the sudden death of her predecessor Magufuli.