Tanzania police arrest opposition leader after visiting colleagues in custody

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Tanzania’s police arrested opposition leader Zitto Kabwe on Tuesday while he was visiting his fellow leaders detained in Dar es Salaam for urging demonstrations to demand a fresh election and an independent electoral commission, his party said.

Kabwe, the head of the fast-growing ACT-Wazalendo, is among the leaders that police had been seeking after the former called for peaceful protests on Saturday.

Police said the protests were illegal and aimed at causing violence.

“Our party leader Zitto Kabwe has been arrested and detained by police after arriving at Oysterbay police station where he was visiting opposition leaders who were arrested on Sunday for demanding fresh elections and an independent electoral commission,” ACT-Wazalendo said on Twitter.

The opposition has demanded a re-run of last week's election, citing widespread suspected fraud, and had called for protests against the outcome, which saw incumbent President John Magufuli win with 84% of the vote on Oct. 28.

Before his arrest on Tuesday morning, Kabwe had said on Twitter he would be visiting Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of the leading opposition party, CHADEMA and his fellow leaders including former lawmaker Godbless Lema and former mayor of Ubungo municipality Boniface Jacob at the central police station.

Dar es Salaam’s special zone police commander Lazaro Mambosasa told Reuters he could not confirm Kabwe's arrest because he was out of the office.

Other opposition leaders were still detained by police, he said.

“They are still under investigation…once the investigation is over they will be charged in court,” Mambosasa said when he was asked about the status of the earlier arrested leaders.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Bernadette Baum)