Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu was briefly detained Monday after police stopped opposition parties from holding protests, according to the main opposition Chadema Party.
Opposition officials said Lissu was detained and questioned for several hours along with other opposition figures over a call to protest last week’s election.
The country’s main opposition parties have rejected official election results that show President John Magufuli won a second term with 84% percent of the vote. They are demanding a rerun of the poll, which they say was full of irregularities.
Lissu told Reuters news agency that Chadema Party chairman Freeman Mbowe, former lawmaker Godbless Lema, and the former mayor of Ubungo municipality, Boniface Jacob, were all arrested earlier Monday. He said planned opposition protests for Monday were not able to take place because of heavy deployments of police on the streets.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter Monday that the United States is “deeply concerned by reports of election irregularities, politically motivated arrests, and violence during Tanzania’s election last week.”
He said Washington would “review allegations of the use of force against civilians” and urged authorities to fully address concerns of irregularities.
U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright said on Twitter Monday that reports of arrests of opposition leaders are “extremely concerning.”
Tanzanian opposition parties had called for nationwide election protests Monday, including a march to the National Electoral Commission in Dar es Salaam. However, police were deployed in every area the parties designated as a starting point, and crowds never materialized.
Dar es Salaam's regional police commander Lazaro Mambosasa accused the opposition of planning violence during the protest.
The opposition has vowed to continue to organize protests until the election is repeated.
Magufuli is preparing for his inauguration later this week.
Charles Kombe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, contributed to this report.