Tanzanian opposition leader, Freeman Mbowe was a free man on Friday after prosecutors dropped terrorism charges against him, ending a case that his supporters had branded a government bid to crush dissent.
Mbowe, who is the chairman of the Chadema party, was detained last July in the lakeside town of Mwanza where he was due to attend a conference on proposals for a new constitution.
He was charged in court on July 26, in spite of protests from his party members who said the charges were politically motivated.
“The director of prosecutions has dropped charges of economic crimes and terrorism,” Chadema said on its Twitter feed. Three co-accused were also freed, the party said.
Mbowe’s supporters, who had gathered into court to follow the trial, cheered after the decision to drop the charges was announced.
His detention and trial had raised questions about President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s commitment to greater tolerance for political dissent.
Hassan, who took over after the death of her predecessor John Magufuli in March last year, lifted a ban on four newspapers and met the exiled top opposition leader in Brussels last month, stirring hopes of greater tolerance for political dissent.