The United States Embassy in Tanzania issued a terrorism alert on Wednesday, which came the same day as exiled Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu permanently returned to the country for the first time since 2017 following an assassination attempt.
Tangia nimezaliwa sijawahi kuona idadi kubwa ya watu namna hii. Jana kwa mara ya kwanza nimeshuhudia kwa macho yangu mwenyewe bila kuhadithiwa, watu wengi sana katika mapokezi ya Mhe.#TunduLissu.Watu wanna imani kubwa sana na huyu kiongozi. Hakika ndiye mbeba maono wa taifa hili. pic.twitter.com/nZVdVhqmX1
— Joel Msuya (@JoelHamisMsuya) January 26, 2023
During his political career, Lissu established himself as a key opposition figure within the Tanzania government when he won a Parliament seat in 2010. While in office, Lissu was a staunch critic of then-president John Magufuli, which saw him be arrested several times over allegations of sedition and insulting the presidency. In 2017, Lissu was shot 16 times while in his car outside of Parliament by unknown gunmen. The attack resulted in Lissu leaving the country for advanced medical treatment and out of fear for his life. After receiving medical treatment in Kenya, he moved to Belgium in self-exile, only returning back to Tanzania once in 2020 to challenge Magufuli in the Presidential election. Lissu lost and returned to Belgium after receiving death threats.
Lissu returned to Tanzania on Wednesday, arriving in the commercial capital of Dares Salaam. His return coincided with a recent decision by current President Samia Suluhu Hassan to reverse Magufuli-era bans on political rallies, which targeted opposition parties.
Security alert for U.S. citizens in Tanzania
Full text: https://t.co/tZ0tZ7X2Tt pic.twitter.com/S3DSfw7SrG
— US Embassy Tanzania (@usembassytz) January 25, 2023
The United States Embassy issued a security warning for the city, advising Americans and other westerners to avoid high traffic areas in Dar es Salaam, stating that “Locations frequented by U.S. citizens and other Westerners in Dares Salaam and elsewhere in Tanzania continue to be attractive targets to terrorists planning to conduct attacks. Terrorist groups could attack with little or no warning, targeting hotels, embassies, restaurants, malls and markets, police stations, mosques, and other places frequented by Westerners.”
Tanzania has been dealing with an ISIS-aligned insurgency along its border with Mozambique for several years now, specifically by militants from Cabo Delgado. Tanzania, however, has not faced a siginifant attack on a major city in over two decades. It remains unknown if the adversary was meant to coincide with Lissu’s return, which has become a political focal point in the country. Rallies held by Lissu would be prime targets for attacks to disrupt political and social life in Tanzania. Likewise, the advisory could be in relation to potential attacks against Lissu by Magufuli supporters.