Tanzania’s opposition leader Tundu Lissu has fled the country to Belgium, his lawyers have confirmed.
Lissu sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the city of Dar es Salaam last week, claiming he feared for his life after a contentious election.
“I’m staying at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday because of threats on my life,” Lissu told Bloomberg on Saturday by telephone. Unidentified people had threatened to deal with him “once and for all,” he said. “I read that as: They are out to kill me.”
“I just want safe passage out of the country, given the deterioration in the security situation for myself,” Lissu added.
Before his flight departed for Brussels, Lissu told journalists that “diplomats from Germany, Belgium, the United States and other countries have negotiated with the Tanzanian government to allow me to leave the country safely. And it is their efforts that have allowed me to leave today.”
Going back as a resident
Lissu said he has not sought refugee in any country .
“I am leaving my country as a free citizen. I am not a refugee. I have not asked any country for asylum. I am going to Belgium because — as you may know — after living there for three years during my therapy, I attained legal resident status. I am not going to Belgium as a refugee, but rather returning as a resident.”
Speaking of his future as the leader of Tanzania’s opposition, Lissu says: “I am also going to Europe with a political mission. I want to speak with the international community about what happened during the recent election, and what it means for Tanzania and the rest of the world.”
Lissu returned to Tanzania in July from self-imposed exile in Belgium, where he was receiving medical attention after a September 2017 attempt on his life. He had been shot by unidentified gunmen in the capital, Dodoma. No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.
The 52-year-old, who was defeated by President John Magufuli in the election, urged supporters to take part in peaceful demonstrations against the vote. Tanzanian authorities banned the protests and arrested him alongside other opposition leaders.