Tanzania opposition leader Godbless Lema has been freed from police custody hours after he was arrested in Kenya as he fled Tanzania.
The Chadema politician, who lost his bid to retain his seat for Arusha Urban Constituency for a third term, was arrested on Sunday at Ilbissil in Kajiado County after he and his family crossed over through the Namanga border.
Chadema party confirmed on Monday evening that Lema had been freed from police custody.
Mwenyekiti wa Chadema Kanda ya Kaskazini na aliyekuwa Mbunge wa Jimbo la Arusha Mjini Mhe. @godbless_lema ameachiwa muda huu baada ya kukamatwa na polisi Kenya hapo jana.
— Chadema Kaskazini (@Chademakaskazni) November 9, 2020
Lema’s lawyer George Luchiri Wajackoyah told Nation that the government had agreed to offer the politician asylum.
Earlier, Lema, in an interview with the publication, said he does not want to return back home over fears of persecution.
He claimed that his travel to Kenya was occasioned by death threats and being trailed by unmarked cars in Arusha.
“I was being trailed by unmarked cars back in Arusha. I and family also received a death threat. I decided not to ignore and left with my family. Tanzania remains a persecution ground for opposition leaders,” said Lema who was being held in a separate room away from the main cell at the Kajiado Police Station.
He maintained that he is not running away from justice but rather from an imminent assassination due to his political stance.
Human rights defender, Amnesty International Kenya, had earlier urged Kenyan authorities not to deport the politician.
In a statement, the organization urged the government to give Lema asylum, noting that his going back to Tanzania could lead to “political persecution and imprisonment”.
“Kenya must not violate the internationally recognised principle of non-refoulment. The international principle is upheld by our own laws. It prohibits Kenya from turning away people at the border or returning them to their country where they would be at risk of danger,” Amnesty Kenya said.
Opposition leaders in Tanzania continue to protest against what they term as electoral injustice in the country following the declaration of President John Pombe Magufuli as the winner of the October 28 presidential election.
The leaders claim the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) rigged the poll that saw over 90 per cent of government critics including Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu lose.