By ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam

The whereabouts of Freeman Mbowe are unknown.

TANZANIAN authorities must account for an opposition leader who is missing after being arrested alongside others on the eve of a meeting to demand political reforms.

Freeman Mbowe and 11 other party officials and staff of Party of Democracy and Progress (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) in Swahili) were arrested during night raids at their hotel rooms in Mwanza on Tuesday.

The arrest came hours before a planned conference demanding a new constitution for the country.

While other members were taken to the Central Police Station in Mwanza, lawyers, family members and party officials have not been able to access Mbowe.

“The Tanzania Police Force must also account for the whereabouts of Freeman Mbowe – who at present is unaccounted for – and ensure his security and safe return,” said Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Region.

Mwangovya said Tanzanian authorities must end escalating crackdown on opposition party leaders.

“Unless the authorities have clear legal grounds to justify these arrests, all of those arrested in this swoop must be immediately released,” Mwangovya said.

The arrests and detentions are denounced as Tanzanian authorities’ disregard for the rule of law and human rights.

These peaked under the presidency of John Magufuli, who died earlier this year.

Samia Suluhu Hassan has succeeded her and is reversing some stringent policies of the late. – CAJ News