Tanzanian opposition lawmaker Tundu Lissu, an outspoken critic of President John Magufuli’s government, was on Thursday seriously wounded in a gun attack at his residence.
The police and his party officials confirmed the incident saying it occurred around midday at his residence in the administrative capital, Dodoma.
“Lissu has suffered multiple gunshot wounds and is being treated at the main public hospital in Dodoma,” said the spokesman for the main opposition CHADEMA party, Tumaini Makene.
“We strongly condemn this attack and are closely monitoring his condition,” he added.
Regional police commander Gilles Muroto said an investigation into the shooting was underway. He, however, added that they did not know what had motivated the attack and the suspects were still at large.
“We are asking fellow citizens with information to help us,” he said, adding that initial inquiries were focussing on a car believed to have followed Lissu to his home.
President Magufuli took to Twitter to denounce the attack. He wrote:
“I have been saddened by reports of the shooting of Hon. Tundu Lissu. I pray for his quick recovery. Law enforcement agencies should hunt down all those involved in this barbaric act and bring them to justice.”
Tundu Lissu is reported to be in a stable condition by James Kiologwe, a doctor at Dodoma regional hospital.
Human rights groups have weighed into the “cowardly attack” and have called on the government to prove that the attack was not politically motivated.
“This cowardly attack on one of Tanzania’s most fearless and prominent politicians raises concerns about the safety of all dissident voices in the country, at a time when space for dissent is quickly shrinking,” said Sarah Jackson of Amnesty International.
“This heinous crime must not be swept under the carpet … The authorities must take steps to reassure Tanzanians and the world that his shooting was not politically motivated.”
Tundu Lissu has had several run-ins with the government of President John Magufuli and has been arrested at least six times this year. He was last arrested in August after revealing that a plane bought for the national carrier had been impounded in Canada over unpaid debts.
He has been accused of insulting the president and disturbing public order among other charges.
The 49-year-old politician serves as chief whip for the parliamentary opposition and is also the president of Tanzania‘s bar association, the Tanganyika Law Society, as well as being CHADEMA’s attorney general.