Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Tanzania orders arrest of lawmaker who insulted president
Tanzanian authorities ordered the detention of an opposition lawmaker on Tuesday for insulting President John Magufuli, days after the president ordered officials to take action against “incitement”. The opposition has accused Magufuli, nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for his blunt leadership style, of presiding over an “increasingly authoritarian” government. Ali Hapi, Kinondoni district commissioner, ordered police to detain Halima Mdee, a lawmaker from the main opposition CHADEMA party, in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and keep her for 48 hours pending criminal charges.
“She should be questioned and sent to court to explain the insults she made against our president,” Hapi told journalists. He did not say what the insults were.
Tanzania’s laws allow regional and district commissioners to detain for 48 hours anyone who may “disturb public tranquillity.”
Magufuli warned opposition leaders on Sunday against “reckless” remarks and ordered authorities to take action against any opposition leader who incites violence. At least 10 people, including university students and a lecturer, have been charged in court over the past few months with insulting the president via social networking platform like WhatsApp. Insulting the president was made a criminal offence under a cybercrimes law passed in 2015 before Magufuli came into office. It is punishable by up to three years in jail, a fine of around three thousand dollars or both.
The government said free speech had limits.