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Blood, tears as police stop Chadema march

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Dingswayo, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Dingswayo

    Dingswayo JF-Expert Member

    Jan 5, 2011
    Joined: May 26, 2009
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    Wednesday, 05 January 2011 21:55 dig

    By Zephania Ubwani
    The Citizen Bureau Chief

    The Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, was among four Chadema MPs detained by police after a demonstration called by the opposition party was violently broken up yesterday.
    Other MPs who were being held at Central Police Station in Arusha were Mr Godbless Lema (Arusha), Mr Joseph Selasini (Rombo) and Mr Philemon Ndesamburo (Moshi Urban).

    A section of the busy Arusha-Moshi highway turned into a battlefield as heavily armed riot police moved in to break up the demonstration led by senior Chadema officials.
    Several of the party’s leaders were arrested, and dozens of people, including journalists, beaten up and injured by baton-wielding police officers. Police also fired in the air, sending people scurrying for cover.

    There was a heavy police presence in various parts of the municipality from early in the morning, especially along the roads that were part of the demonstration’s route. Police had banned the demonstration on the grounds that it would spark violence and disorder. But Chadema officials and supporters defied the order when they began marching from the Phillips area along the Arusha-Moshi highway to the city centre.

    However, the march came to an abrupt end at Tanki la Maji area, about a kilometre away, when the demonstrators found a contingent of armed riot police blocking their path near the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) regional offices, leading to a violent confrontation between the two sides. Mr Mbowe, Mr Lema and Mr Selasini were arrested in the ensuing commotion and taken to the Central Police Station.

    Those who bore the brunt of police action were Special Seats MP Lucy Owenya and Dr Slaa’s fiancée, Ms Josephine Mushumbusi, who was drenched in blood after suffering a deep gash on her head.

    Several journalists were also beaten up as they covered the confrontation. They include The Citizen correspondent Moses Mashalla, Channel Ten cameraman Ashraf Bakari and Mr Moses Kilinga, a stringer with the BBC. Armed police were conspicuous in the town centre and insisted they would not relent to pressure to allow the march to take place following ‘‘intelligence reports” that they would turn chaotic.

    But as scores of people converged at the National Milling Corporation (NMC) grounds for the Chadema rally that the authorities allowed to take place, more drama unfolded. Shortly after 1pm, police fired tear gas, prompting a near-stampede.
    Some Chadema officials said police also fired live bullets and that scores of people were injured. Mr John Bayo, a senior Chadema official in the region, said they were surprised that police had to use tear gas against people who were orderly.

    His remarks were supported by Chadema Special Seats MP Suzanne Lyimo, who accused the police of using excessive force. An eyewitness, Mr Mathayo Gidahuta ,wondered if there was any justification for the police to use tear gas against people who had assembled at the grounds.
    Tear gas blasts continued to rock the venue close to 5pm yesterday when the rally addressed by Dr Slaa was about to end.
    Reports said police were engaged in running battles with youths in downtown Arusha.
    But some of Chadema leaders and supporters managed to reach NMC grounds where, Dr Slaa addressed a rally and declared that the opposition party would no longer entertain overtures for dialogue with the ruling CCM.

    He said Chadema had still not accepted the results of the presidential vote during the October 31 General Election and they decided to let the bygones be bygones, but it seems the authorities were not ready to give people their rights.
    “We can still come out in our millions to challenge Kikwete’s victory,” he said during a rally at the National Milling Corporation (NMC) grounds that was preceded by chaos.

    Dr Slaa, who lost to Mr Kikwete in the presidential contest, said Chadema could mobilise people across the country to demonstrate against irregularities noted during the last polls.
    He stated that Chadema was still contesting the parliamentary election results for Shinyanga Urban, Geita, Mbeya Rural and Mbozi East constituencies.

    “We have the capacity to organise a country-wide demonstration against the CCM government,” he said noting, however, that his party feared to the consequences of such action.

    The former Karatu MP addressed the huge crowd as his left hand remained bandaged due to injuries sustained after falling in a bathroom at the start of the election campaigns in Mwanza last year.

    He spoke as three Chadema legislators, including the national chairman, were being questioned by the police for defying police orders not to hold any demonstration following orders from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on Tuesday.
    He lashed out at the police for refusing to grant the party permission to organise a demonstration to protest against the recent mayoral elections in Arusha won by a CCM councillor.

    Mr Slaa and Mr Ndesamburo were later arrested at Mount Meru Hotel as the Chadema secretary-general was about to address a press conference.

    Several Chadema legislators from Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions were present during the rally which took place amid tight security by the police.

    Police fired tear gas bombs to groups of people who had converged at the area from around 1.30pm and minutes before 5pm when the meeting was about to end.